in Accotink Creek

"Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their watershed."

Our streams are drowning!
We are drowning Accotink Creek with inadequate water management. One of the major problems impairing the health of our streams is, ironically, water itself - a case of too much of a good thing.

Flooding has become only partly an act of nature. Development has multiplied many times over the amount of impervious surfaces in our landscape. Even during routine rainstorms, runoff from roads, driveways, roofs, and parking lots rushes directly down storm drains into local streams, scouring away their banks, carrying trash, fertilizer, and oil washed off streets and lawns. Natural surfaces with tree cover and sponge-like layers of leaf litter and humus used to allow much of this rainwater to evaporate or seep into groundwater. Now overwhelmed streams, forced to act as extensions of storm drains, result in destructive erosion of streambeds, silt washed downstream to the bay, creeping habitat degradation, and unnecessary flooding of man-made structures.

And what happens after the rain? The water that once would have seeped slowly into streams via aquifers has already washed out to the bay. Many streams shrink to a trickle, a fraction of their historic steady flows.

Throw a life preserver to a drowning stream. Get involved. Learn more about watershed planning solutions. Contact us, to make a difference.

A Rainstorm in the Woods
When it rains in a forest, trees and foliage catch much of the water before it hits the ground. Water that reaches the forest floor lands on a soft absorbent humus layer. Water infiltrates between soil particles and joins the groundwater aquifer that gradually flows towards streams.

During its slow journey towards a stream, groundwater is filtered and cleaned. Some pollutants adhere to clay and other soil particles. Microbes living in the soil break down other pollutants. Plant roots take up fertilizers. In the end, the groundwater seeping into a stream is cleaner than when it first landed in the forest. And it seeps gently into the stream from the water table without eroding the stream banks, maintaining clear, steady constant-temperature flow during dry weather.

A Rainstorm in Town
Compare this to a rainstorm in our neighborhoods, where rain strikes the pavement and rushes toward the nearest storm drain, picking up trash, road salt, and oil as it goes. Rain on rooftops enters downspouts, and runs across lawns picking up fertilizer and pesticides before entering storm drains.

Storm drains in the Accotink Creek watershed do not receive filtration or treatment. Instead, pipes carry stormwater directly to the creek, where:

  • Swift-flowing water scours banks and undermines trees, smothering stream life with sediment.
  • Temperature swings stress stream life, particularly in summer as water runs off hot pavement.
  • Once the rain passes, stream flows drop and even go dry, deprived of steady aquifer recharge.
The USGS stream gauges for Accotink Creek, and the Long Branch central tributary show the dramatic swings in stream flow.
Low-impact Development
Our towns and cities don't need to impair our streams. There are many ways to have modern development AND clean creeks. The answer lies in designing our stormwater systems to work more like nature - to slow down water, filter it, and allow it to seep into streams gradually. Rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs, pervious paving and other simple techniques can help us maintain a healthy Accotink Creek. In Virginia, financial Conservation Assistance helps make this easier.

Anywhere we influence land use decisions - our homes, civic associations, businesses, houses of worship, and more - We can make a difference for Accotink Creek.

In our civic life, we can be a part of Team Accotink. Let friends, neighbors, and public officials know what you know - We are all the guardians of Accotink Creek.

Sources of Information and Support:

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