Fairfax County has over 1,600 miles of streams and associated channels. These natural waters are continuously changing and can be susceptible to pollution that can cause health risks to people and their pets. The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services monitors the current condition of the County’s streams and the impact from stormwater infrastructure. However, water users should always assume a level of risk when using natural waters. Because of the potential sources of contamination that can impact water quality (including sewer line breaks, illegal dumping, and runoff of pesticides, herbicides, etc.), swimming in county streams is discouraged. In collaboration with the Fairfax County Health Department, the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services offers the following advice:
Prevent illness and injury when swimming in natural waters by following these steps:
- Avoid swimming in natural waters for a few days after a heavy rain event.
- Avoid swimming in muddy water of lakes, ponds, and rivers.
- Avoid swimming in unfamiliar ponds, streams, creeks, ditches, and canals.
- Avoid swallowing water when swimming.
- Avoid getting water shot up your nose when swimming, especially in warm shallow water.
- Look for posted signs near the swimming area.
- Be aware of local weather conditions prior to recreational activities and watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents.
- Don’t swim in areas where there are dead fish present.
- Don’t swim or wade in with open wounds or cuts.
- Don’t swim if you are ill.
- Shower with soap and clean water after swimming.