Charlottesville’s Parks and Recreation Department has coordinated with local camps and volunteer groups to conduct dozens of clean-ups of local streams over the past few years. Hundreds of volunteers have removed thousands of pounds of trash and debris from City streams. Walking through streams, groups have removed everything from bicycles, pogo-sticks, carpets, shopping carts, appliances, batteries, tires, and car parts, to bottles, plastic, cans, and assorted trash. Trash in water bodies contributes to water and visual pollution and detracts from the aesthetic qualities of the landscape. Excessive amounts of trash can clog up storm drains and lead to flooding. It also poses a threat to wildlife and human health by acting as a choking hazard to wildlife and harmful bacteria to humans.
This truck-load of trash was collected in just one morning from Moores Creek by volunteers from GE Fanuc. By participating in stream clean-ups you can help to improve water quality, increase the aesthetic quality of the City landscape, and decrease health and safety threats to both wildlife and humans.
The City also administers a formal Adopt-A-Stream program for citizens who wish to dedicate their efforts to a particular stretch of stream. By participating in the Adopt-A-Stream program you will be acting as a community steward of the environment and promoting vital water quality improvements. For more information on the Adopt-a-Stream Program, please read these documents:
Urban streams, by the very nature of the lands that drain into them, often have some water quality impairment. This is the case with many of the streams in the City, some of which have been identified by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality as being impaired because of excessive levels of sediment and bacteria. That in and of itself does not necessarily mean that it is dangerous to be in or around these waterways. What it does mean, is that it is always advisable to follow some practical guidelines when interacting with urban streams:
- Do not conduct a stream cleanup, or go into the stream, during or immediately after a rain event. Levels of pollutants are higher at these times because they are carried into streams by rainwater via the stormwater drainage system.
- Do not go into the stream if you have any open cuts, wounds, or sores on your body.
- Wear shoes and gloves to protect your feet and hands.
- Always wash hands or use hand sanitizer after being in contact with the stream, and especially before eating.
- Do not ingest any of the stream water or sediment.
The Virginia Department of Health published this flyer with some guidelines on contact with natural waterways.
Stream Clean-up & Adopt-A-Stream: To learn more about Stream Clean-up efforts and the Adopt-A-Stream program, or to express interest in participating, please E-mail.
Pollution Prevention Hotline: To report an environmental incident or concern, illegal dumping, or an illicit discharge to the stormwater system or a stream, please E-mail.