Become part of the solution!
Local streams and protected stream valleys are the lifeblood of our local ecosystem. They provide habitats for native flora/fauna, serve as wildlife corridors, mitigate flooding and storm surges, lower the temperature, filter pollutants, replenish groundwater, and are the source of water for the Potomac River. How well they are able to perform these functions depends on the decisions we make individually at home, and collectively in our local policies.
There are a number of pressures on Holmes Run and the protected stream valley that result in the loss of trees and habitat, including urbanization, channelization, deer browsing, pollution, storm surges and the proliferation of non-native invasive plants that crowd out native wildlife. In addition to supporting local policies that protect our watershed, learn how you can help restore habitats at home and as a stream valley volunteer.
Holmes Run passes through older, urbanized areas that pre-date modern stormwater management practices. The volume and velocity of runoff from today's more frequent, intense storms tend to overwhelm waterways, undercutting streambanks, sweeping pollutants and sediment downstream, and damaging infrastructure. Sections of the stream have been heavily armored or otherwise divorced from the natural floodplain, causing the runoff to accelerate as it moves through. Learn more about stormwater management in Fairfax County and how the Lake Barcroft pass-through dam fits in. Find the status of the City of Alexandria's ongoing $7.2 million project to repair downstream damage to the Holmes Run Trail here.
Every year, volunteers pull thousands of pounds of trash out of Holmes Run at more than a dozen cleanup sites before it can reach the Potomac River. These discards make their way into the stream from storm drains. Among the most common: Plastic bags and bottles, tires, shipping packaging, PPE, construction materials and single-use food containers. Know a site along Holmes Run that could use attention? Want to volunteer at a site cleanup? Visit our watershed cleanup page.
A NOTE ABOUT REPORTING POLLUTION AND DUMPING:
Is your stream suddenly looking sudsy, bright orange, neon blue or oily? Believe it or not, the change could be natural and temporary. Visit Fairfax County DPWES's "What's that stuff in the stream?" to learn how to tell the difference between harmful pollution and harmless natural causes.
Have you witnessed a contractor or citizen dumping debris or chemicals in your stream? Have you come across a fish kill? For more information on how to report various types of incidents, and when to consider it an emergency, visit this page courtesy of our neighboring watershed organization, Friends of Accotink Creek.