Volunteer Opportunities and Educational Programs
Numerous options exist for volunteer opportunities and educational programs on watershed stewardship in Fairfax County.
The goal of watershed stewardship is to improve the health of Fairfax County's streams by promoting watershed awareness through positive actions and advocacy. These actions may include conducting a stream cleanup in your neighborhood, labeling a storm drain or planting a tree in your community.
How can you participate?
Aquatic forms of insects (called "benthic macroinvertebrates") live on the bottom of rocks and debris lying in the stream bed. These small organisms play a big role in helping Fairfax County staff monitor the health of a stream. Data collected by volunteers is incorporated into a number of different water quality reports, including the Stream Protection Strategy Baseline Study. Join the hundreds of existing volunteers in collecting this important information and make a difference in the health of Fairfax County's streams! If you are interested in becoming a monitor, email the coordinator or call 703-324-1422, TTY 711.
Storm drain curb inlets are located at low spots along most of the roads in Fairfax County to reduce flooding. A common mistake is to think that the water entering the storm drain curb inlet goes to a treatment plant. This network of storm drains actually empties stormwater directly to our streams. Therefore, pet waste, trash, paint, motor oil or any other substance dumped into them is carried along with stormwater. Labeling our storm drains with markers that state, "No Dumping, Drains to Our Streams," is a great option for engaging students, scouts or concerned homeowners, and educating our neighbors. To schedule a volunteer project orientation or for questions, email the program coordinator or call 703-324-1423, TTY 711. More detailed information about these projects is also available in the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District's step-by-step guide to storm drain education projects.
Floatable trash, such as styrofoam cups, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and plastic grocery bags, is commonly caught on the banks of our streams and the land next to them. This trash is not only unsightly but is also a hazard to the animals that make this area their home. These are some of the organizations in Northern Virginia involved with stream cleanups, helping to reduce the amount of trash in our stream valleys and preventing it from continuing downstream:
- Alice Ferguson Foundation Potomac Cleanup (Spring)
- Clean Fairfax Council
- Clean Virginia Waterways (Sept. 1 thru Oct. 31)
- Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (Adopt-A-Stream Program)
For more information, please email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711.
Join other residents in Fairfax County to help restore native forests and meadows, stabilize streams and control invasive exotic plants through our buffer restoration program. Native plants may be purchased at the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District's annual seedling sale.
There are many groups of residents who are taking active steps toward improving the water quality of their streams through organized efforts. For information on existing groups, please email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711. For ideas on how to organize a watershed group, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's watersheds page.
Volunteers are needed to provide assistance in incorporating the Enviroscape Watershed Model into Fairfax County school classrooms, youth programs and community presentations. The volunteer will be trained to use the model and present it. The model can also be lent out to environmental organizations. For more information, please email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711. You can also email the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District or call 703-324-1422, TTY 711.
Build community and water conservation awareness by forming a water stewardship team within your community. Each team will have a coach assigned to the group to provide support and resources. The team meets four times as individuals learn how simple lifestyle changes can help protect our vital natural resources. The teams also support further community action and environmental stewardship. For more information, please email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711. You can also email the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District or call 703-324-1422, TTY 711.
Contact the watershed calendar coordinator via e-mail or call 703-324-1422, TTY 711 to receive a semi-monthly watershed events calendar by e-mail. The extensive calendar includes opportunities for volunteer stream monitoring, stream cleanups, tree plantings, water treatment facility tours, storm drain marking and many other exciting events.
Save money and water while protecting the Chesapeake Bay through installing a rain barrel to capture runoff from your roof. For more information on what is a rain barrel and what can it do, please read the information on the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District rain barrel program page including the rain barrel FAQs. For other questions, email the rain barrel program or call 703-324-1428, TTY 711.