Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

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Matthew Kaiser,
Public Information Officer

Public Works and Environmental Services - News

Nominations Open for Annual Friends of Trees Awards


The Fairfax County Tree Commission presents awards to individuals, schools, youth and other organizations that volunteer their time and effort to preserve, protect or plant trees. Nominators must submit a written description of the project or program, the benefits to the community, the planning involved, how problems were addressed and how the project will be maintained. Please limit…

Awards and Recognitions to Public Works and Environmental Services


A first place 2019 Best Habitat Creation Project in the Bay, a BUBBA, from the Chesapeake Stormwater Network, was awarded to Meghan Fellows, CERP, Ecological Restoration Specialist, Stormwater Planning Division, for a reforestation project at Silas Burke Park which was one of five…

Dead Run Stream Restoration Ribbon Cutting


The public is invited to attend a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the Dead Run Stream Restoration in McLean Central Park.

The ceremony will be held at noon on Saturday, June 1, 2019, near the tennis courts behind the McLean Community Center at 1234 Ingleside Avenue,…

Massey Building Demolition Set to Begin


Structural demolition work on the Massey Building tower, located in the heart of the City of Fairfax, will commence on or about May 21, 2019. (The start date is weather-dependent.) All hazmat materials, including asbestos, will be certified to be removed from the Massey Building before commencement of this demolition phase.

The demolition process and removal of debris from the site is…

New Podcast, EnviroPod, To Air Monthly


The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services has a new public education tool to inform residents about county actions regarding the environment and to help residents learn what they can do to support the county’s environmental vision.

The first New Podcast, EnviroPod, To Air Monthly

Regional Approach to Glass Recycling Leads to Creation of the Purple Can Club


Today, Fairfax County, City of Alexandria, Prince William County, and Arlington County announced a new strategic partnership to recover and recycle glass. In Northern Virginia, glass collected in curbside recycling bins is sent to recycling facilities where it eventually ends up in landfills. During the transportation process to the facility glass is broken and becomes mixed with recycling…

George Mason Students See Sustainability Initiatives Firsthand During Tour


At the request of George Mason University’s Environmental and Sustainability Studies program, a group of students were provided a classroom presentation and tour of Fairfax County’s I-95 landfill complex in Lorton.

Charlie Forbes, branch chief for Recycling, Compliance, and Planning, delivered an overview of solid waste management and recycling in Fairfax County, then led a tour…

Protecting Your Trees from EAB


While the trees are waking up from dormancy in the spring, the tiny emerald ash borer (EAB) beetles are beginning to emerge, primed to create a new generation of tree-killers. Spring is the perfect time, right after the trees have leafed out, to protect any ash trees that are of value while the beetles are out and flying.

There are several options available to help protect the…

Brian Keightley’s County Conversation Interview March 13, 2019


Brian Keightley, the new Director of the Urban Forest Management Division (UFMD), Public Works and Environmental Services, is a life-long resident of Fairfax County.

“I remember the Gypsy Moth invasion of the 1980s which brought public attention to the need to manage tree pests and to support tree conservation efforts throughout the county,” Keightley said.


Fairfax County Collected 320 Tons of Household Hazardous Waste in 2018


Fairfax County safely disposed of 320 tons (641,951 pounds) of household hazardous waste in 2018. This waste consists of consumer products that are toxic, ignitable, corrosive, and/or reactive. Collecting and disposing of HHW separately from other municipal waste protects collection workers and protects the environment by keeping potentially harmful compounds out of landfills.


Enhanced Maintenance Program Revitalizes Aging Commercial Districts


Much like someone who tidies up his or her property before putting it on the market, Fairfax County is making an effort to improve the curb appeal in five designated community revitalization districts, or CRDs. These mature commercial areas – Annandale, Bailey’s Crossroads/Seven Corners, McLean, Richmond Highway Corridor, and Springfield – are located in densely populated areas, are accessible…

John Marshall Library Earns Project of the Year Honors


The John Marshall Library renovation and expansion project has been selected to receive the 2019 American Public Works Association Mid-Atlantic Chapter’s Project of the Year Award in the category of “Structures $5 Million, but less than $25 Million.” The project has also…

Free Fishing Day for Kids Highlights Flatlick Stream Restoration


Grab your gear and your little fisher-boy or girl and have a great free fishing day at Flatlick Stream Valley Park in Chantilly on Saturday, April 6, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. A welcome and check-in table will be located by the stream off Placid Lake Court.

The stream will be stocked with rainbow trout. There will be very limited fishing gear available to borrow for this event.…

Chestnut Tree Blight and Restoration


Very few people remember mature American chestnut trees, but before the introduction of a disease called chestnut blight, approximately 25 percent of the trees in eastern North American forests were American chestnuts.

The trees grew fast and large and produced tons of valuable fruits. They provided food for wildlife, livestock and people and were an important part of the economy,…

TLC (Tree-Loving Care) Using the Tree Fund


When viable tree planting sites are identified on county properties, homeowner association common open space or for projects managed by non-profits, Fairfax County’s Tree Preservation and Planting Fund administered by the Urban Forest Management Division (UFMD) can be used to help cover the costs of materials and supplies.

“We manage planting and tree maintenance projects on…

Learning and Earning: Water and Badges


On Jan 25, 2019, Boy and Girl Scouts toured Fairfax County’s Noman M. Cole, Jr. Pollution Control Plant, learned how wastewater is cleaned, and earned some badges.

The Scouts walked through the tunnels under the treatment plant where they asked questions about how wastewater travels from their homes to the plant. They saw the primary and secondary treatment processes, talked to…

Public Meeting to Discuss Proposed Hauled Wastewater Charges Set for Feb. 26


on Proposed Hauled Wastewater Charges
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
The Auditorium at Noman M. Cole, Jr. Pollution Control Plant
9399 Richmond Highway, Lorton, VA 22079

Fairfax County invites pump and haul contractors and interested parties to attend an informational meeting and provide…

Fairfax County Uses Crushed Glass in Construction Project for First Time

Sanitary sewer replacement projects rarely make headline news. Digging up, repairing, and replacing aging pipes is just part of wastewater infrastructure’s life cycle. It happens all the time, and usually in places well away from public view. But when a project embraces sustainable practices and the idea of a circular economy and finds a constructive use for a waste product, it is worth…

Haycock Elementary Students Become Citizen Scientists


Students investigate the buildup of floatable trash or litter in and around a stream near their school through the Citizen Scientist Floatable Monitoring Program, a watershed education outreach effort by ecologists in the Stormwater Planning Division.

Youngsters at Haycock quantify and categorize the trash based on use, predict what the litter sources may be and think of ways to…

Urban Soil Health


The soil is an often forgotten part of the ecosystem but is extremely important, especially for trees. Components of soil are minerals (sand, silt and clay), air, water and carbon (organic matter). Healthy soils are also teeming with life, most of which is microscopic (fungi, bacteria and nematodes). For example, many tree species rely on soil fungi called mycorrhizae which help them take up…

Public Works Projects Build Resiliency Along Backlick Run


2018 was Northern Virginia’s wettest year on record since 1889, and was a soggy reminder that Fairfax County is susceptible to more frequent heavy rainstorms. With more than 800 miles of streams in Fairfax County, residents living near these waterways endured flooding and witnessed the resulting erosion of public and private property.

One area that has experienced extensive damage…

LED Bulbs Accepted at Fairfax County Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites


Light-emitting diode bulbs are not accepted in curbside recycling bins; however, Fairfax County residents may bring LEDs to the county’s two household hazardous waste drop-off areas for recycling. The drop-off areas are located at the I-66 transfer station in Fairfax and…

Invasive Insects Kill Hemlock Trees


In the 1950’s a particularly nasty invasive insect called the hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA) arrived in the U.S. on infested ornamental hemlock trees. This insect feeds on the sap of hemlock trees (Tsuga sp.). The American species (Eastern and Carolina hemlocks) have no defense against this invasive pest and will eventually die. Hemlocks are slow growing and very long lived trees and have been…

Collaborative Wastewater Project Delivers Relief to Piney Run Residents


Piney Run Drive is a quiet, wooded cul-de-sac in the Alexandria area of southern Fairfax County, Va., located off Old Telegraph Road, just north of Fort Belvoir. The road is lined with lush ferns and tangles of vines, and some yards are enclosed with wooden split-rail fences. The canopy of mature trees forms a tunnel over the narrow asphalt road, providing cooling shade during hot…

Ecologist Discusses Stream Restoration at Water Monitoring Conference


On Friday, December 7, ecologist Chris Ruck, Stormwater Planning Division, presented at the Maryland Water Monitoring Council Conference in Linthicum, Maryland. The theme of the conference was "Science, Stewardship and Citizen Involvement – Working Together for Clean Water."…

Circular Economy Explored on Landfill Complex Tour


On Friday, November 16, a group from The World Resources Institute’s Washington, D.C. office toured the I-95 landfill complex in Lorton, Va. Environmental compliance specialist Erin Abrahams led the tour, which focused on the general operations of the solid…

Original Mount Vernon High School Receives $50K Donation for Playground Equipment


On Friday, November 30, 2018, the National Association of Counties Foundation for the Improvement of Public Services and the U.S. Communities Foundation presented a check to Fairfax County in the amount of $50,000. The money is designated for future playground equipment to be built when the Original Mount Vernon High School site is renovated.

A master development…

Brian Keightley Appointed New Urban Forestry Director


Brian Keightley is the new Urban Forest Management Division Director, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. Former and soon-to-retire division director Keith Cline and Keightley are working together for a smooth transition.

“Brian is an outstanding addition to the Urban Forest Management Division and to Fairfax County leadership,” Cline said. “I look forward to…

Holiday Tips for a Waste-free Party


It is that time of year again! Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone and now it is time to spread some holiday cheer in the form of work parties, family gatherings, and the promise of a happy New Year! And while consumerism typically reigns during the holidays, there are some great strategies for reducing waste you can apply when planning your next…

Freshwater Ecologist Presents to 600 Elementary School Students


On Friday, November 30, 2018, freshwater ecologist Danielle Wynne spoke to more than 600 students at two assemblies at Rose Hill Elementary School in Alexandria. Wynne,wholeads theWatershed Education and Outreach section within the Stormwater Planning Division of Fairfax County's Department of Public Works and Environmental Services,introduced the students to what it means to be…

Urban Forester Helps Students Plant Native Trees


Students, teachers, urban foresters and other volunteers planted10 native trees at Mantua Elementary School in early November. “I found it magical to have ten, tall, beautiful, native trees in the play yard at the end of the day where before there had been none,” said Michele Sullivan, fifth grade teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools. “As a teacher, it was fun to watch the kids…

Living Trees Extend Holiday Cheer Year-Round


This holiday season, consider decorating your home with a living tree that you can later plant in your yard to enjoy for many years to come. Simply leave the tree’s roots balled or covered in burlap, and place the tree in a container. Before moving the tree inside, allow the tree to adjust to cooler temperatures by storing it in an unheated garage or shed for a few days. Do this again when it’s…

Adult Students Tour Trash and Recycling Facilities


In late October, approximately 20 adults from George Mason University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute toured Fairfax County’s trash and recycling processing facilities at the I-66 transfer station in Fairfax and the I-95 landfill complex in Lorton. OLLI is an educational and social organization of more than 1,200 retirees living in the area.

The tour began with an explanation of…

Subscribe to Sustainable Communities


You may have heard of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services –it's a mouthful, we know – but do you know what we do? We build infrastructure and provide critical services to make Fairfax County a sustainable place for residents to live, work, and play. Our work often goes unnoticed, but we have interesting stories to share, and now we have a way…

Volunteers Install Nearly 700 Native Plants


A pollinator meadow planting event was held at the Alban Road vehicle maintenance facility in Springfield on Saturday, November 10. More than 30 volunteers from the Department of Vehicle Services (DVS), George Mason University’s Engineers for International Development program, and Friends of Accotink Creek helped install native plants.

"Thank you to our partners in DVS,…

Floodplain Management Plan Progress Report Available


The Floodplain Management Plan Progress Report 2018 is available to the public and media. The progress report is part of the Northern Virginia Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan and is published annually by the staff of the Stormwater Planning Division,…

New Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Director Announced


At its meeting on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed Randy Bartlett to lead the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. A national search was conducted to fill the position held since 2009 by retiring director James Patteson. Bartlett has served as deputy director of DPWES since December 2005, overseeing the Stormwater and Wastewater…

Two Public Works Employees Recognized for Environmental Excellence


At a ceremony scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, October 23, 2018, two employees from the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services will receive Fairfax County Environmental Excellence Awards. The Fairfax County Environmental Quality Advisory Council…

John Palmer Wins Friends of Trees Award


The Fairfax County Tree Commission will honor the late John Palmer with a 2018 Friends of Trees award on October 23 for his contributions to enhancing the natural environment. John’s work on stream restorations, stormwater management and community planting projects will benefit the community for many years to come.

John was a Landscape Architect in the Stormwater Planning Division,…

Phase 2 of Laurel Hill Adaptive Reuse Project Set to Begin


On September 26, 2018, Fairfax County and the team of Elm Street Development and The Alexander Company completed the real estate closing on the second phase of the Laurel Hill Adaptive Reuse project. The agreement continues the work that began in late 2015 to redevelop the historic core of the former Lorton Reformatory into a vibrant mixed-use community.

Phase 2 work includes the…

Smart Cities Pilot Project Tests Recycled Materials For Use In Road Repairs


Recent wet weather is a reminder of the destructive power of water and the associated costs of road maintenance and repairs. Water infiltrates voids between traditional stone road bases beneath asphalt surfaces, compromising the substructure and creating potholes.

A new pilot project at Fairfax County’s I-95 landfill complex is testing the viability of using a mix of recycled…

Fairfax County MS4 Program Receives Gold and Silver Level Awards


The MS4 Program has been awarded a Gold Level in Program Management and a Silver Level in Innovation by the not-for-profit Water Environment Federation (WEF) of Alexandria, VA, in the National Municipal Stormwater and Green Infrastructure Awards Program. These levels were selected based on rigorous review and discussion among the WEF work team and provides a comparative bench-marking level…

Fairfax Connector Reston-Herndon Bus Operations Facility Renovations


The project to renovate the Fairfax Connector Reston-Herndon Bus Operating Facility, located at 268 Spring Street, Herndon, Va., was substantially completed on July 27, 2018. The $12,633,300 project was undertaken to improve the efficiency of the facility where 80 Fairfax Connector buses are maintained and repaired. To allow operations to continue uninterrupted, the building was renovated…

Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters Achieves LEED Gold


On June 28, 2018, the Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters located at 12099 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Va., achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Certified buildings are resource efficient and less expensive to heat, cool, and maintain. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)…

Polluted Runoff is a Leading Cause of Water Pollution


In Fairfax County and other areas of the country, polluted stormwater runoff is a leading cause of water pollution. The county drainage system is designed to convey stormwater, rain and snowmelt, from the land to lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. Stormwater is not conveyed to a water treatment plant.

Stormwater from streets, yards and parking lots may carry chemicals, bacteria and…

Fairfax County Celebrates Sixth Annual National Garbage Man Day


Fairfax County’s Solid Waste Management Program is celebrating the sixth annual National Garbage Man Day during the week of June 17 to 24. Trash collection is hard, physical work and it’s…

Public Works Week Picnic Targets Zero Waste


At its annual Public Works Week picnic on May 23, 2018, Fairfax County’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services collected 120 pounds of compostable materials, or about one-third of the event’s overall waste. The other…

Fairfax County Wastewater Treatment Plant Achieves 100 Percent Permit Compliance for Twentieth Consecutive Year


Fairfax County’s wastewater treatment plant achieved perfect compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit in 2017. This marks the 20th consecutive year the Noman M. Cole, Jr. Pollution Control Plant in Lorton, Va., has earned the Platinum Peak Performance Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

NACWA’s Peak Performance…

Students and Teachers See Wastewater Treatment Benefits on Chesapeake Bay Foundation Boat Trip


During the week of April 16, forty-two high school students, 60 elementary school students, and 25 middle school teachers boarded the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's research workboat, the Bea Hayman Clark, for an educational experience they won't soon forget.

Throughout the day, students discussed watersheds, performed water quality testing, conducted plankton studies, and trawled for…

Fairfax County Earns National Achievement Award for “Revitalize, Restore, Replant”


Fairfax County, Virginia, has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

NACo recognized “ Fairfax County Earns National Achievement Award for “Revitalize, Restore, Replant”

South County HS Marketing Students Pitch Big Ideas in Buzz Tank


The I-95 landfill complex is sitting on a goldmine, liquid gold, that is, as in pure honey. At least that’s the case South County High School students in Ms. Kellen Scott’s marketing class are making.

The complex has South County HS Marketing Students Pitch Big Ideas in Buzz Tank

Environmental Stewardship Takes Root at Elementary School Tree Planting Event


Fairfax County’s Urban Forest Management Division continued its tree planting program last week in partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools. UFMD staff Linda Barfield and Hugh Whitehead and Mark Moseley, STEAM Resource Teacher and Get2Green Advisor at Dogwood Elementary School, were…

New Fairfax County Wastewater Management Report Available


Fairfax County’s Wastewater Management Program has published a new report titled “Sustaining the Environment and Protecting Public Health.” The publication explains the program’s efforts to protect, restore, and…

Fairfax County Earns Tree City USA Designation for 35th Consecutive Year


Fairfax County has earned the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA designation for the 35th consecutive year. Each year since its inception in 1976, thousands of urban foresters across the country submit applications to be considered to receive this cherished designation. The accomplishment will be celebrated during a brief ceremony at the county’s Earth Day event, Springfest Fairfax, on…

Urban Foresters Protect Hemlock Trees Against Invasive Insect


Urban foresters have been out surveying and treating trees at Hemlock Overlook, near the Occoquan River in the southern part of the county, and in Scott's Run which is in the northeastern area of the county. Hemlock trees are more common in the Appalachian Mountains, but there is a small population of naturally occurring hemlocks in Fairfax County.

"In the 1950s a particularly nasty…

Fairfax County Infrastructure Projects Win Project of the Year Honors


The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) will recognize six Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services projects during an awards ceremony at the chapter’s 60th Annual Conference and Equipment Show on May 1-4, in Fredericksburg, Va. The annual awards celebrate the best infrastructure projects constructed in Virginia, Maryland, and…

Fairfax County's Pool of Certified Construction Managers Deepens


Fairfax County has matured from a rural community to a suburban bedroom community to a highly desirable place to live and work, with its own thriving economy. As the county urbanizes, development projects and transportation improvements have become more complicated. Fortunately, Fairfax County has 21 Certified Construction Managers (CCMs) on staff to navigate through regulations, engage the…

Ecologist Provides Hands-on Learning at Elementary School STEAM Event


Every kids knows what a butterfly is, but what on earth is a caddisfly? Belle View Elementary School students found out at the school’s annual STEAM night on Tuesday, Feb. 20. (STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.)

Danielle Wynne, an ecologist in the Stormwater…

Michael Schindler Wins President's Volunteer Service Award


Michael Schindler, engineering tech II, Wastewater Design and Construction, Capital Facilities, Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, was recently awarded the U.S. President's Volunteer Service Award for his 318.5 volunteer hours in 2017.

The President's Award encourages citizens to "live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national…

For the Love of Trees


Urban forester Hugh Whitehead says it is important to provide adequate space for trees in urban development projects, a concept known as urban greening.

"Potential benefits of urban greening include improved mental and physical health; improved air quality, stormwater management, water quality, and public safety; strengthened economics, and improved social well-being," Hugh said.…

Stormwater and Wastewater Employees Judge High School Science Fair


Three scientists from the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services served as judges at Chantilly High School’s annual science fair on Wednesday, January 24, 2018. The staff members were invited to participate by biology teacher Michele…

Stormwater Status Report Available


The Fairfax County 2017 Stormwater Status Report highlights the accomplishments of the stormwater management program from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 and includes:

Stormwater Program Business Plan Focus on efficiencies, meet regulatory mandates Stormwater Capital Projects Flood mitigation, facility retrofits, stream restoration and…

Awards Program Recognizes Excellence in Building Design and Construction


The 11th Annual Awards of Excellence for Building Design and Construction ceremony was held at the Fairfax County Government Center on December 15, 2017. The winners have been instrumental in delivering capital projects that improve safety, transportation, and overall quality of life for Fairfax County residents. The awards recognize the winners’ commitment to excellence and outstanding…

County Chesapeake Bay Action Plan Approved

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reviewed and approved Fairfax County’s Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) action plan on August 15, 2017.

Receiving approval from DEQ for the TMDL action plan represents a giant step forward in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay,” said James Patteson P.E., Director, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.…

Solid Waste Management Program Wins National Safety Award


Fairfax County's Solid Waste Management Program has won the 2017 SWANA Safety Award for Biggest Improvement in the category of Collection and Transfer. This national award from the Solid Waste Association of North America recognizes the county's commitment to ensuring its solid waste employees make it home safely every night. The award will be presented during a ceremony on Sept. 27 at the…

Urban Foresters Battle Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Tree Pest


The exotic, invasive emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is an extremely challenging insect to manage. Its larvae burrow under the bark of ash trees (Fraxinus sp.) which slowly cut off the source of water and food that the tree needs to survive and is almost always fatal to North American ash species. The EAB larvae are well-protected under the bark of the tree, so it is not feasible to…

Renovated Pohick Regional Library Achieves LEED Gold


On May 9, 2017, the Pohick Regional Library (6450 Sydenstricker Road, Burke, Va.) achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects are scored based on points earned in sustainable design categories. Certified buildings are resource efficient and less expensive to heat, cool, and maintain, and Fairfax County now…