Should My Dog Play in the Stream?

Take the following into consideration the next time you consider letting your pet into a stream:

Four Mile Run is impaired for elevated levels of bacteria. It is not safe for human activities where water may be ingested, such as swimming.

Arlington’s streams receive stormwater runoff.

  • Stormwater washes glass, litter, petroleum, bacteria, dirt and anything else found on our streets, into our streams.
  • Stormwater runoff is not treated or filtered before entering the streams.
  • You cannot see pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Even if the water is clear, that doesn’t mean that it is safe.
  • Stream volunteers monitor the bacteria levels at 21 sites around Arlington once a month. The data graphs provided by the County exhibit how bacteria levels can fluctuate from month to month.

Events like sewer breaks can result in sudden increases in bacteria levels.

  • If a pipe breaks, the sewage will likely find its way into a stream. It may be several hours before crews are alerted and able to post warnings. Sign up for Arlington Alert to receive notifications of events like sewer breaks.

Broken glass, wire and sharp metal are often along the stream bottom.

  • These items are not easily seen when they are in the water and can easily cut paws.

If a stream appears to be discolored, visit the Report Stream Pollution page. The images on this page may help you determine the cause of the discoloration and whether you should call the Emergency Communications Center (703-558-2222).

When outside of a County-sanctioned, off-leash dog park, all dogs in the County must be on a leash. Rabies vaccination tags and County Dog License tags must always be secured on your dog’s collar.