Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

703-550-9740
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 358, Fairfax, Va 22035

Michael McGrath,
Director, Wastewater Treatment

Gunston Cove

Since 1984, Fairfax County, with assistance from George Mason University, has been monitoring water quality and aquatic life in the Gunston Cove area. As a major discharger of treated wastewater into the tidal Potomac River from the Noman M. Cole Jr., Pollution Control Plant, Fairfax County has been proactive in decreasing nutrients, a major cause of water quality impairment, since the late 1970s. Due to the county’s commitment to advanced wastewater treatment at the Noman M Cole Jr., Pollution Control Plant, nitrogen and phosphorus loadings in Gunston Cove have reduced dramatically over the study period.  Chlorine and solids in treated water have also been reduced or eliminated. The reduction in loadings has been achieved even as flow through the plant has remained high. Fairfax County has demonstrated how effective wastewater management can improve water quality, and thereby restore the aquatic ecosystem. The Gunston Cove study has proven to be an extremely valuable case study in ecosystem recovery for the Chesapeake Bay region and internationally.