In April 26th 2018, our group of (probably) 8 people led by Francis (our fantastic tour guide), visited a lot of tourist sites from Smithsonian Museum to Jefferson Memorial Monument. It was great, my feet became ‘jell-o’ for walking 14 km and happy to take a lot of picture and learnt history of the site from Francis. Among those tourist sites, there was one site that got my greatest interest and it’s just like a fate and dream come true. it is Potomac River.
The potomac river actually is one of my reference in thesis and our lobby and advocacy (LA) on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) issue. In 2004, USGS fish pathologist, Vicky Blazer, found out that the male smallmouth and largemouth bass developed immature eggs in the sex organ and its percentage around 80-100%. The first evidence of intersex fish, actually were found in 2000 at West Virginia Streams (south branch of Potomac river), 200 miles upstream from Washington. The gender bending or intersex fish, where male/female fish develops immature eggs/sperm due to the chemicals properties (estrogenic or androgenic) results in infertility or low fertility.
if USGS scientist found it in 2004 in Potomac river, the intersex fish was found in 2014 from the joint work of Brawijaya University (Indonesia) and Toulouse University (France) in 2013. The other similarities between Potomac and Mas is their main function which is water resource for 1.4 million Northern Virginia and 3 million Surabaya customer.
The findings of intersex fish in Potomac river which is being managed carefully rises BIG RED FLAGS for ours who live in developing country, where our stormwater and grey water flow directly into the river and dark water is less managed. We belief that the scale of intersex fish in Mas and other Indonesian rivers which have the similar land use and management is massive and endanger aquatic life and create ecosystem imbalance.
The same issue and vital function which connects Potomac and Mas river, which is really interest me. The next questions from me would be: (1) how government institution approach to solve the issue; (2) which organization/ government institution that was being involved and what is their function and responsibility and the action plan?; (3) Is there any update on this issue, any good news?; (4) if the action plan was made, how the implementation and what is the challenge implementing the action plan. These questions if it possible to be answered and I could meet and learn from the institution that works on this issue, it would be another dream comes true.
So, aside from the intersex fish issue, I saw logs and boulders is laid out close the river. In river ecosystem, these two play important role when its submerged – habitats for fish and water bugs and where the fish eggs where attach. We develops this green infrastructure in Brantas river as an effort to give more diverse habitat for aquatic life; fish breeding site; and sediment control. In the end, walking along the Potomac river is wonderful and fulfilling experience for me