There is a great deal of information about water quality and the Potomac River. The truth is that our everyday lives do impact water quality. There is no simple solution; there's no magic liquid we can pour into our local streams and rivers to make them clean.
There is, however, something we can all do as a community. Each person, each business, each organization can take steps to minimize impacts on water quality. It will take all of us to improve conditions. We cannot rely on one group to do it. Nor can we be satisfied with pointing fingers. Just one group, one industry, or one community does not cause the problem. It is all of us contributing. It is a local, state, regional, national and global issue. We are all the problem, but together, we can all be part of the solution.
The solution starts somewhere and spreads. Let's make Prince William County the starting point!
Each of us can take steps to prevent pollution and keep our streams healthier. Here are seven steps you can take to protect our local streams, the Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay and beyond.
- Car Care - Recycle your used motor oil, antifreeze and batteries at the County landfill. Remember to keep your car tuned so it runs better and pollutes less. Be sure your car does not leak dangerous fluids and oil that wash into streams. Wash your car on your lawn or divert water across a grassy area to filter your suds.
- Boaters and Fisherman - Limit your speed because wakes can cause shoreline erosion. Don't litter. Please dispose of trash properly. Avoid using soap to wash off your boat. Try to rinse and scrub your boat with a brush. If you must use soap, choose a phosphate-free soap or detergent.
- Swimming Pools - Drain your pool only when it is necessary. Be careful to prevent the chlorine from entering storm drains or nearby streams. Allow pool water to sit for a few days then drain the water onto the lawn so soil can filter out the remaining chlorine residue.
- Your Pets - Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
- Septic Systems - Monitor your tank yearly and have the system pumped every five years using a licensed contractor. Remember that additives do not help and may actually hurt your system. Divert water flowing from roofs and paved areas away from your septic system. Call the Health Department at 703-792-6310 for more information.
- Lawn Care - Apply fertilizers properly. Nutrients in fertilizers contribute to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Test your soil early to determine needs. Use pesticides wisely -- never spray them near water or into the wind. Call the Virginia Cooperative Extension at 703-792-6285 for more information.
- Household Chemicals and Products - Handle and dispose of products that contain hazardous chemicals properly. These materials can wash into waterways and harm our streams and the Chesapeake Bay. Call 703-792-6001 for details.
By taking these simple steps, all residents, businesses and agencies can do their part to reduce pollution and improve water quality by changing their practices and habits. Remember our local waters also have an impact well beyond our County boundaries. All local streams feed into the Potomac River, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay, which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean, which feeds into other oceans.