Stream Safety

It is important to remember that stormwater runoff, and the pollutants that it carries, flows through the storm drain network to Arlington’s streams. The runoff is not filtered or treated. Here are some common-sense stream safety tips to help you enjoy our streams.

  • Don’t swim or bathe in streams.  Fishing and wading in shallow areas is OK.
  • Keep stream water out of your eyes, ears, and mouth, or any open sores. Children who are too young to understand these precautions shouldn’t be allowed to play in streams.
  • Always remember to wash your hands with soap and water after coming into contact with stream water.
  • Never drink stream water.
  • Avoid any contact with stream water that’s discolored or has an unusual odor.
  • Use caution when wading to avoid falling on slippery rocks, and wear shoes to protect your feet from broken glass and other sharp objects.
  • Don’t eat uncooked fish caught in local streams.

Have a dog? Learn more about dog-specific considerations related to stream contact.

Volunteers monitor bacteria levels in local streams on a monthly basis. Find out more information on bacteria in Arlington’s streams as well as links to our data.

If a stream appears to be polluted or 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).

Soapy hands of little child hand-washing in the sink.
Did You Know?

There’s a correct way to wash your hands. 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information
on the best method to get your hands clean and keep you healthy.