Condition of the Watershed

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

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 have found streams in the Little Hunting Creek Watershed in poor condition.

Streambank erosion and sedimentation

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

Riparian (streamside) buffer loss

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

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

Poor water quality

The 2005 Little Hunting Creek Watershed Management Plan found poor water quality in the creek due to:

Low biological health

As of 2005, stream habitat quality was rated as poor or very poor for 73% of the length of streams in the watershed, and fair for 27%. None of the streams had any portion rated as good or excellent.


For more information about the condition of the watershed, see

The Little Hunting Creek Watershed Management Plan.

Fairfax County Stream Quality Assessment Program.

Virginia Water Quality Assessments