What Citizens Can Do

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Get Involved. This is one of the most important things you can do to help protect the city’s streams and creeks. Make an effort to find out what is going on in your community regarding water quality issues. You can do this by attending public meetings, joining a local watershed organization or scheduling a time to meet with local officials. You can also sign up through the Fairfax City Alert to be notified of upcoming environmental events. The City encourages you to ask questions and get involved. To find out more about how you can help contact Satoshi Eto.

How You Can Help:
  • Dispose of household and automobile chemicals and other waste products properly. Dispose of your home chemicals such as paint, solvents, cleaning agents, motor oil, antifreeze, batteries and mercury properly. Never pour any of these materials into a sewer or storm drain. The homeowner must take pesticides, oil-based paint, gasoline, thinner and other hazardous waste to the Fairfax County transfer station located at 4618 West Ox Road. For more information refer to the city’s website or call 703.385.7995.
  • Dispose of pet waste properly. Clean up pet waste. Pet waste that is not disposed of properly may wash into the nearby storm drains and into the local waterways. Animal waste adds harmful bacteria and nutrients to the streams that can be harmful to humans and wildlife.
  • Do not dump anything into the storm drain. Properly dispose al all hazardous materials such as motor oil, paint and antifreeze. Anything dumped into the storm drain eventually reaches the city’s streams and the Chesapeake Bay. The City of Fairfax has a volunteer program to help place storm drain markers on storm drains throughout the city. For more information, contact Satoshi Eto
  • Fix plumbing leaks and conserve water. A tiny leak can add up to a gallon in minutes. Saving water saves you money. For more information, visit Fairfax City’s wise water page.
  • Sweep up debris on sidewalks instead of washing it away with a garden hose. By volume, sediment is one of the largest pollutant sources entering the nation’s streams and rivers. The dirt and gravel that runs off our sidewalks and streets has a negative impact on the water quality of the city’s creeks and streams.
  • Drive less. Take the metro, CUE bus, carpool, ride a bike, or plan your trips to be more efficient. You’ll save money on gasoline and reduce air pollution. Particles from air pollution also have an impact on water quality.
  • Keep your car tuned and periodically check for fluid leaks. This keeps oil from leaking onto the ground and can increase gas mileage, saving you money and protecting the environment by reducing water and air pollution.
  • Wash your car or other outdoor equipment at a commercial carwash instead of at your home. The grease, oil and other chemicals that we wash off these items can run off of our driveways and lawns and enter the storm sewer system and eventually discharge to local streams and rivers. Even the soaps we use to clean these items can cause problems for some aquatic life.
  • Use cat litter or other absorbents to soak up spills. Never wash spills away with a garden hose. Pour cat litter on oil leaks and other household chemical spills to soak them up.
  • Properly maintain your septic system. If you have a septic system at your home, it is important to ensure that it is functioning properly.

Around the Yard:
  • Use less lawn chemicals and always follow the label directions. Rains can wash away your fertilizers and pesticides, which is a big waste for you and toxic for aquatic life. Do not use chemicals on your lawn before it is expected to rain, and try using organic or slow-release products, which are better for your lawn and for the environment. Be conservative with pesticides and herbicides (weed killers) and try natural alternatives. The Virginia Cooperative Extension offers assistance with many services including soil testing and assistance in determining how much fertilizer to use on your lawn and insect, disease and weed control assistance. For more information contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension location in Fairfax County at (703) 324- 5369.
  • Clear street gutters and storm drains of trash, leaves and grass. Trash may clog drains and cause your street to flood in a storm. Leaves and grass wash to our creeks and streams where they decay, reducing the oxygen in the water that fish need to survive. Trash and debris can also cause numerous problems for fish and other aquatic animals.
  • Compost leaves, branches and grass clippings. Compost makes great mulch for your garden or flowerbed. Leave grass clippings on the lawn as you mow to return nutrients to your lawn. For more information on composting go to Refuse & Recycling
  • Pick up trash and litter in your yard. Much of the trash in our yards and along roadways will eventually find its way to a stream or river. This not only adds to a streams pollutant level, but fish and some birds can become trapped or choke on some types of trash and die.
  • Reduce the amount you water your lawn. Lawns need less than an inch of water per week. If it rains an inch, do not water. Try using a rain gauge.

For More Information on Environmental Issues, Check Out The Below Links:


Thank you for interest in helping the City of Fairfax protect our streams and the environment. If you would like additional information on the City’s stormwater and floodplain management programs or on how you can help, contact:

Satoshi Eto, Stormwater Resource Engineer 
City of Fairfax
Department of Public Works
10455 Armstrong Street
Fairfax, Virginia 22030

Hours: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Weekdays