Public Works Projects Protect Water Quality

May 19, 2015
For Immediate Release

Public Works Projects Protect Water Quality

a portion of the purple pipelineThe Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services’ stormwater and wastewater management division works every day to protect our most precious resource, water. Last month the department received its new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, which guides the county’s efforts to manage stormwater runoff. In addition to meeting the permit’s requirements, the county used state grant money to fund four stream bank restoration projects, and eight more projects are coming soon. “Project Purple Pipes” is a nationally-recognized project that reuses treated wastewater for various activities in the southern part of the county. Along with paid staff, a legion of volunteers monitors streams, labels storm drains, and plants trees. Read on to learn more environmental stewardship efforts led by DPWES.

New MS4 Permit

The new MS4 permit is much more than a piece of paper. The permit guides the county forward in its environmental stewardship efforts. There are additional requirements or steps that the county must take to protect water quality and prevent pollution from reaching local streams and the Chesapeake Bay. In anticipation of the permit, the county placed itself in a good position to meet these regulatory mandates. There will be some unanticipated challenges, but the county is well prepared and positioned to succeed through its policies and programs already in place or in development. Read the 2014 Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Report, which details the county’s watershed management program.

Stormwater Local Assistance Fund Grant

Rabbit Branch dedicationThe county received the first payment of more than $1.8 million from the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Matching grants are given to local governments for planning, design and implementation of stormwater best management practices that reduce pollution from stormwater runoff.  

The funds were used for four stream and water quality improvement projects:

  • The Banks project restored approximately 1,200 linear feet of Piney Run near the intersection of Old Telegraph Road and Helmsdale Lane. Learn more about the project on SlideShare.
  • The Pohick Creek project restored approximately 1,300 linear feet of an unnamed Pohick Creek tributary and retrofitted the downstream receiving stormwater facility near the intersection of Harford Lane and Guinea Road.
  • The Rabbit Branch project restored more than 1,500 linear feet of a Rabbit Branch tributary near the intersection of Dequincey Drive and Commonwealth Boulevard.
  • The South Lakes High School project restored more than 650 linear feet of a tributary to Snakeden Branch near the intersection of South Lakes and Seahawks Drives.

Recently, Fairfax County was selected to receive $4.3 million for eight additional stormwater projects.

Purple Pipes

There are plenty of ways to save water: turn off the tap when brushing your teeth; take shorter showers; install a rain barrel at your house and use the captured water on your flower beds. Fairfax County takes it a giant step further through the water reuse project, or what some of us call “Project Purple Pipes.” Clean but not potable wastewater from the Noman Cole Plant is pumped through purple pipes to irrigate the Laurel Hill Golf Course and the south county ball fields, for commercial car washing, in construction and other industrial uses like the cooling towers at the Covanta Resource Recovery Plant. Purple pipes and signs make it clear that this water is not for drinking. More information about the environmental benefits of Project Purple Pipes here.

Stream Monitoring Volunteer Opportunities

volunteers marking storm drainsIf you are looking for something fun and interesting to do, and you don’t mind wet feet, sign up for biological stream monitoring. All sorts of insects and other aquatic critters live on the bottom of rocks and debris in stream beds. These small creatures play a big role in monitoring the health of streams. The data that volunteers collect helps the county target specific streams for preservation and restoration.  To learn more or to sign up email the coordinator or call 703-324-1422, TTY 711. If stream monitoring doesn’t appeal to you, try storm drain labeling, stream cleanups or plant a tree.







Contact: Irene Haske
703-324-5821, TTY 711

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