Izaak Walton League of America
Watershed Conservation Activities
in Fairfax County, Virginia
Nothing is more basic to life than water. Without it our life expectancy can be measured in days It is therefore remarkable that we take something so important to our survival and well being so much for granted.
In Northern Virginia, sediment from soil erosion, excess water borne nutrients, toxic chemicals, and trash have all contributed to the decline in the health and economic productivity of the Chesapeake Bay and itís tributaries. Generally referred to as Nonpoint Source Pollution, these are contaminants to the soil, air or water that cannot be attributed to a specific individual, household or company.
Or to put it another way, it is the cumulative effect of thousands of people, over fertilizing their lawns, throwing trash out of their car window, or using pesticides irresponsibly.
If there is a common theme to suburban nonpoint source pollution, it is that all of this material going into the Bay is a product of unmanaged stormwater run off and a direct result of our failure as a society to manage rainfall as a resource.
Floating trash is the most visible type of stormwater delivered pollution.
It is a cruel irony that as the population in an area increases, so too does the demand for water increase. The cruel irony is that as the demand for water increases the available supply declines. impervious surfaces, roadway, houses parking lots which reduces the ground water available to supply a growing population Even reservoirs need ground water As the population grows, the demand for water grows even as the supply declines. Consider the Occoquan Watershed. Our own chapter property in centerville. Spring at the edge of the powerline right of way. When I first joined in the early 90's, flowing from the ground during the summer, it looked like a water main break, today it is but a trickle. The housing on the hill has prevented much of the rain fall that once fed the spring and diverted it to Mount Olive Road.
Impervious surfaces created by the ever increasing development of Northern Virginia are preventing rainfall from infiltrating into the soil where it normally would slowly filter through the earth making its way into a river or stream.
Now much of this water stays on the surface as stormwater runoff, where it flushes pollutants from the streets into the storm sewers. In turn, the sheer volume of water draining from these storm sewers into local streams and rivers scours the vegetation and tons of soil from their banks further degrading quality of the water going into the Bay.
Something that should be of concern to everybody, are that water restrictions have become a more frequent possibility particularly in the more heavily populated areas of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. During periods of drought, the reserve of ground water that would recharge wells and reservoirs is not there to replenish the water that is being used by the population.
In the Worlds Oceans, a stew of plastic fragments is forming from the debris of modern society.