Canoe-sized logs among debris being removed from channel on Southwest Waterfront

An ongoing team of volunteers and organizations working to clean up the channel along the Southwest Waterfront in D.C. has removed enough wood and debris to fill four 30-yard dumpsters as of Friday.

The Washington Channel Water Cleanup, which is supported by The Wharf, has been underway since March 1 and is expected to last through March 18.

Volunteer boaters have been pushing trash and debris toward shore where it is pulled out of the water and loaded onto docks where it is sorted and separated so it can be disposed of properly. The wood pieces and logs are cut and chopped into wood chips. Trash, such as plastic bottles and cups, is taken to the dump.

“It’s just been a tremendous waterway cleanup,” said Patrick Revord, director of technology and community engagement for The Wharf.

The effort certainly helps the environment, but there’s more to it than that.

“We’re really looking forward to the April boating season when hundreds of boats will come into the channel,” Revord said.

A year’s worth of record rainfall has helped push generous amounts of trash, debris and wood of various sizes downstream and into area waterways. Logs as big as 3 feet wide, such as one being pulled from the water on Friday, pose a hazard to boat traffic.

“In the past year we’ve had very serious reported cases of boat propellers that have hit these large logs in the river,” Revord said. “Boats have needed to be towed back to the police dock or back to the fire dock right on the channel because they’ve taken on water from hitting big logs like this.”

In addition to recreational boaters, the channel is used by water taxis and entertainment dinner cruises.

“It’s extremely expensive to replace a propeller down on the bottom of on one of those boats,” Revord noted. “So, it’s really important for everyone who comes up and down the channel that there aren’t these big logs getting in the way of their boating.”

Groups volunteering either boats or manpower for the cleanup include, the Washington Marina, Capital Yacht Club, Port of Washington Yacht Club and the Southwest BID.

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