Condition of the Watershed

The Little Hunting Creek Watershed was developed during a time when stormwater was treated by piping it off roads and yards and into the nearest stream as quickly as possible. For decades, Little Hunting Creek and its tributaries have functioned as giant storm sewers, and were damaged as a result.

About 92% of the watershed is developed, and 25% is covered by impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, roads, driveways, and roofs. During rain storms, such surfaces produce large volumes of runoff at high velocity that damage streams. To halt and reverse the damage, both the amount and velocity of stormwater runoff must be reduced.

Assessments conducted by Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia over the past 30 years find streams in the Little Hunting Creek Watershed in poor condition because of:

Runoff resulted in this head cut 
south of the George Washington Parkway, on Mt. Vernon estate

Streambank erosion and sedimentation

Stormwater runoff has resulted in an actively widening stream bed and unstable banks in the upper reaches of Little Hunting Creek and its tributaries.

Formerly forested buffer on the main stem cleared and lost to development

Riparian (streamside) buffer loss

Over half the stream buffers in the watershed are deficient because they are too narrow or lack vegetation and are paved or covered with lawn.

Poor water quality

Low biological health

Stream habitat quality is rated as poor or very poor for 73% of the length of streams in the watershed, and fair for 27%. None of the streams have any portion rated as good or excellent.


For more information about the condition of the watershed, see

Chapter 2 of The Little Hunting Creek Watershed Management Plan.

Fairfax County Stream Water Quality Report. Annual.

Fairfax County Stream Protection Strategy, 2001.

Virginia Water Quality Assessments