Prevent Pollution

1. Only Rain Down the Storm Drain

Help keep Arlington’s streams and environment clean! Only let rain in the storm drain. 

Rain from roads, roofs, driveways, parking lots, and backyards runs off into storm drains. This runoff is not treated. Storm drain pipes carry runoff directly to the nearest neighborhood stream.

Keep litter, dog waste, soil, grass clippings, leaves, salt, and wash water out of the storm drains. If it’s on the street, it’s in the stream.


2. Pick Up Pet Waste

Pet waste belongs in the trash, not on the ground. Pet waste contains twice as much bacteria per gram than human waste. In your yard, in our parks, in the dog park – wherever you are, pick up the poop and put it in the trash. Learn more about pet waste pickup.

Pick Up Pet Waste

3. Wash Your Car Without Harming Streams

Take your car to a commercial car wash. The dirt, grime, brake dust and soap is treated at a commercial car wash but is not treated at your home. If you wash a car on your driveway, wash water can run off into the street, enter a storm drain, and discharge into a stream, affecting fish and other aquatic life. Learn more about car washing to prevent pollution.

Wash Your Car Without Harming Streams

4. Fertilize in the Fall, If At All; Use Less Pesticide

Minimize or eliminate the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Never apply these chemicals before rain is forecast. Learn more about green gardening.

Fertilize in the Fall, If At All

5. Draining Your Swimming Pool? Use These Best Practices

Pool water kills fish in our streams when discharged improperly. Follow the guidelines for the stream-safe way to release your pool water.

When you drain your pool, follow the rules.

6. After Home Improvement Projects, Never Wash on Your Driveway

When starting a home improvement project, plan - and communicate - where you or your contractor will clean up. Always rinse dirty paint brushes or wash water indoors into a utility sink. Dry materials can be disposed of in the trash. Paint, grout, mortar, wash water or any other material should never be washed into the street. Whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor, you are responsible. Learn more about home improvement project cleanup.

Make sure your spring cleaning doesn't turn into stream pollution

7. Keep Salt Out Of Drinking Water

We are watching our winter salt use – here’s how you can too: Only use the necessarily amount, use the right tool for the job, and remember that when we use less, we protect our streams and drinking water sources. Learn more about winter salt use.

A little salt goes a long way - winter salt use
Image courtesy of the Smart About Salt #SaltingShift campaign.

8. Electronics, Paint and Household Hazardous Waste

E-CARE and the Household Hazardous Materials Facility provide Arlingtonians with safe options to dispose of numerous hazardous materials including chemicals and paint.

Household Hazardous Materials

9. Protect Your Pipes

Fats, oil, grease, and wipes belong in the trash. They can clog pipes and cause a sewage backup that will end up in our streams. Here are some additional tips for protecting your pipes.

A pipe clogged with fats, oils and grease.
A pipe clogged with fats, oils and grease.

10. Reduce Runoff and Prevent Erosion

Soak it in! Capture the rain with rain barrels, rain gardens, permeable pavers, cisterns, conservation landscaping and more – before it becomes runoff. With less water running off of your property, there are fewer opportunities for pollutants to be washed into our stormwater network and our streams. Plus, protect your landscape from erosion with plantings and mulch.

Plant and/or mulch your property and don’t allow sediment or trash to runoff during the next rainstorm! Sediment is a pollutant in our streams as well as in the Chesapeake Bay.

Native plants in a conservation landscape.

11. For Restaurants and Other Businesses

Close the lid! Keep dumpster and grease container lids closed to avoid trash from blowing out and from filling with rain water.

If you spill outside, clean it up using dry clean up methods. Sweep up and/or use absorbent materials, but NEVER hose the spill off into a storm drain.

Arlington County is happy to provide its businesses with the materials shown here as reminders of best practices to avoid polluting our waterways. Contact Aileen Winquist to request copies.

Keep wash water and grease out of storm drains Dry Cleanup - Cooking Oil Poster Back of House Maintenance for Restaurants Pollution Prevention Inspection Checklist for Businesses