Water's Journey

Water's Journey

Where does my drinking water come from? Where does my drinking water come from? Where does the water from my sink and toilet go? Where does the water from my sink and toilet go? Where does the water from my sink and toilet go? Where does the water from my sink and toilet go? What is stormwater and where does it go? What is stormwater and where does it go? What is stormwater and where does it go? What is stormwater and where does it go? What is stormwater and where does it go? What is stormwater and where does it go?

Drinking Water

Where does my drinking water come from?

Where does drinking water come from Your drinking water can travel a great distance before it reaches your tap. Water comes into your house or building from either a public water service provider or a private well.

Public Water Service: In Fairfax County, our drinking water comes from the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers. Water is treated and piped to our homes and businesses where we use the clean water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and plumbing.

For more information, contact these water suppliers:

Wells: Where public water is not available, private water wells supply water. Groundwater is the largest fresh water supply, and protection of this resource is vital. More than 15,000 homes and businesses in Fairfax County rely on groundwater wells for their domestic water supply.

For more information, visit

Health Department for Onsite Sewage Disposal and Private Well Water Systems.

Wastewater Management

Where does the water from my sink and toilet go?

where wastewater goesIf connected to the public sewer system, water used in kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms becomes wastewater and is conveyed to wastewater treatment plants. The treated wastewater is discharged back into the environment, completing the water use cycle.

For information or to seek help with sanitary sewer problems, visit

Wastewater Management or

For urgent problems, call 24-Hour Trouble Response Center: 703-323-1211 | TTY 711 or

email the Wastewater Planning Division or call 703-324-5015, TTY 711

Where public sewer is not available, a septic system may be installed with approval from the Fairfax County Health Department. Septic tank systems carry wastewater to an underground receiving/holding tank under your yard which must be pumped out regularly and conveyed to wastewater treatment plants.

For more information, visit

Health Department for Onsite Sewage Disposal and Private Well Water Systems.

After the treatment plantAfter treatment, water is returned to a local waterway or diverted to a water reuse program for  irrigation and industrial purposes.

For more information, about water reuse visit

Water Reuse or Download Water Reuse Project brochure

Stormwater Management
Stormwater Management

What is stormwater and where does it go?

stormwater's pathStormwater is runoff such as rainwater, melting snow and ice.

  • In natural areas where the land has not been paved, this runoff soaks into the soil and may be taken up by plants or enter the groundwater system.
  • In heavily developed areas, stormwater runoff from roads, sidewalks, driveways, roofs and other hard surfaces cannot soak into the ground, but instead flows rapidly off these impervious surfaces and into the storm drainage system.

The runoff is carried either to a stormwater management facility or directly to lakes, streams, rivers or wetlands. On its path to our waterways, runoff can pick up pollutants such as sediments, excess nutrients, toxic substances and disease-causing microorganisms. These pollutants have potentially harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation and our fish populations. Ultimately, this polluted runoff makes its way to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay through our many watersheds.

For more information on stormwater management, visit

Stormwater Management or

email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711

How can you protect your water?

How can you protect your water?

Everyone can help preserve our water quality and protect the environment. Ensure that only rain goes down the storm drain by limiting lawn fertilizer, picking up pet waste, managing trash, and properly disposing of paint, motor oil, and chemicals. Inside the home, avoid pouring fats, oils and grease down the drain, and never flush used medicine down the toilet.

Reporting problems is another way you can help protect our water. If you see something questionable in a stream or lake, or smell sewer odors, please let us know.

Sanitary Sewer

Wastewater Management or

For urgent problems, call 24-Hour Trouble Response Center: 703-323-1211 | TTY 711 or

email the Wastewater Planning Division or call 703-324-5015, TTY 711

Stormwater

Stormwater Management or

email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711

Be the Solution to Pollution

Be the Solution to Pollution

In your yard

In your car

  • Carpool or use alternative transportation when you can
  • Maintain your car to limit fluid leaks
  • Wash your car on your lawn or at a commercial car wash, visit Car Washing the Right Way
Plant a Tree
County Resources