The Potomac River, celebrated for its comeback from abysmal pollution, is still seriously fouled by contaminants that wash down from farms and fast-expanding Washington suburbs, according to a report from an environmental group.

The Potomac Conservancy, a Silver Spring-based nonprofit group, gives the river a grade of D-plus in its first “State of the Nation’s River” report. The report is to be formally unveiled this morning.

The report comes as federal scientists say that more “intersex” fish, showing elements of both genders, are being found in the river. Previous studies had shown that male bass in District waters were growing eggs; new data show that female fish also seem to be developing abnormally, one researcher said yesterday.

The Potomac Conservancy’s report cites the intersex problem — along with high levels of dirt, sewage and other pollutants — to show that the Potomac might be in danger of backsliding after a decades-long rehabilitation.

“We’ve plateaued,” said Hedrick Belin, president of the conservancy, which has pushed for cleaner water and the protection of land along the Potomac’s banks. “The improvements that we’ve made, the progress, has stalled out.”

Overall, the Potomac remains an astounding story of revitalization. In 1965, after centuries of contamination by raw sewage and industrial pollutants, President Lyndon B. Johnson (D) called it a “national disgrace.”

Since then, there have been large-scale improvements at wastewater treatment plants, and the Potomac is now clean enough to support numerous bald eagles and a famous stock of smallmouth and largemouth bass.

The cleanup “took a sewer and made a world-class fishery,” said Ken Penrod, a longtime fishing guide. “Looking at it now, [compared with] 1960, I still have to smile.”

But this success is now undermined by a combination of agricultural pollution and suburban sprawl, the Potomac Conservancy’s report says.

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