Clean streams benefit people as well as wildlife. Fairfax County streams flow into the Potomac River, a major source of drinking water in Fairfax County. Water runoff from rainfall carries pollutants from the land downhill into streams. Forested stream buffers help filter pollutants out of the water before it reaches the streams. Help protect water quality by reducing land pollution and planting trees.
Keep waste out of storm drains
Storm drains lead directly to streams. Anything that enters a storm drain goes into a stream and to the Potomac River. Only water should enter storm drains. Dispose of household chemicals according to label directions, and recycle motor oil at a gas station. Even dumped leaves can clog drains and streams. Bag yard waste for curbside collection.
Pick up pet waste
Cleaning up pet waste is neighborly and protects water quality. Water runoff washes pet waste, litter, and other contaminants into storm drains and streams. Bag the waste on your walks, and complete the job by throwing the bag into a trash can. Leaving bagged waste on the ground is littering. Pick up pet waste, even from your own yard, to keep both your yard and your local stream clean.
Reduce pesticide, fertilizer and road salt usage
Follow directions on package labels, and do not overapply fertilizer, road salt or pesticides. More product is not better—excess product washes away in rainstorms, contaminating streams and wasting money.
Trees stabilize streambanks by slowing water runoff and reducing soil erosion. Trees protect water quality by filtering fertilizer and other pollutants from water runoff before it reaches streams. Because of their value to water quality, forested stream buffers are legally safeguarded Resource Protection Areas under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance. Trees and other plants may not be removed from an RPA without a permit. Help protect streams by planting trees near an RPA to expand the stream buffer.Author Tami Sheiffer is the Watch the Green Grow Coordinator for the Fairfax County Park Authority.