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Chad Pregracke brought his organization, Living Lands and Water, to Washington, D.C., last week to kick off the Capitol River Relief Project, a month-long effort to clean up the Potomac and Anacostia rivers.

Before the actual trash removal could begin Thursday, Pregracke had to travel up and down the rivers to get a feel for what’s needed. But the trash is just the beginning. “The garbage is really the least of the river’s problems,” he said, explaining that the bacteria buildup and sewage overflow are main causes of the pollution. So, while volunteers drag tires and milk jugs out of the water, Pregracke hopes Members on Capitol Hill will take notice and push legislation that will help rebuild D.C.’s ancient sewer system.

“Whenever a Congressman or staff person uses their toilet, whatever’s in that toilet goes right into the Anacostia,” said Doug Siglin, an environmental lobbyist.

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