Update — 24 Years In: 34-1/2 Inches of Clarity

Bernie Fowler’s Sneaker Index did not soar this year. He saw 341×2 inches of leg, for a water clarity index equal to that of 2004, but far below the goal of 57 inches last seen in 1960.

The former state senator and Patuxent River champion needed many to the ninth power to describe the years it will take before the river is as clear, hence unpolluted, as in his youth. 

“Bernie Fowler is never going to live long enough to see the river cleaned up,” he said, comparing himself to Moses, who spent 40 years leading the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land he never himself saw.

But with a judicially enforceable agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, he said, a clean river is no longer a “pipe dream.”

Among the several hundred Followers of Fowler who waded into the river on the 23rd annual wade-in on the second Sunday of June was EPA assistant administrator for water Robert Perciasepe, who called Fowler’s Sneaker Index “magnificent in its simplicity: a good indicator of water quality.”