Good To Do


What Can I Do_Illustration.jpg​​​​​​What can I do?

You can help preserve, protect and restore the integrity of Virginia Beach's extensive network of streams and wetlands. We need your help to reduce the following major pollutants in stormwater that are reaching our streams and creeks.

Check out these tips to see what you can do to help prevent stormwater runoff and water pollution.

Oil and engine fluids - Oil and engine fluids left on roads and driveways are washed away during rain and flood events. These chemicals are highly toxic to aquatic plants and animals. It only takes four quarts, or abou​t one oil change, of used motor oil to foul 1 million gallons of water. Fix leaks and absorb automotive fluid spills with kitty litter before sweeping the litter into the trash bin.

Soap and residues from car washing - When you wash your car in a driveway, dirty water and soap ends up in storm drains, bringing pollutants with it. Soap and vehicle residues can severely damage fragile aquatic ecosystems. Wash your car on the lawn or at a commercial car wash. If you don't have a grassy spot or a wash bay connected to sanitary sewer, the next best way to protect waterways is to redirect all that dirty water away from the storm drain where it can be absorbed into the ground. Choose biodegradable soaps by looking for the EPA Safer Choice label. 

Litter - During storms, rainwater carries litter from our streets and sidewalks into storm drains, which lead directly to the nearest stream. Litter can be toxic as it breaks down and can suffocate turtles, birds and other aquatic life. Place trash and recyclables in the appropriate bins.

Pet waste - Pet waste can contain harmful bacteria or parasites that can last up to 10 years. If these organisms get into our stormwater, they can spread disease to wildlife, other pets, and even people. Scoop the poop in your yard and on walks with your pet.

Household hazardous wastes and products - Household hazardous wastes include leftover cooking oil, paint, batteries, drain openers, and much more. If these products are improperly used, stored, or disposed of, they can be released into stormwater and cause great environmental harm. Properly dispose of household hazardous wastes at the City's Resource Recovery Center.

Fertilizers - As rainwater flows across land, it picks up fertilizers and carries them to storm drains, which lead to the nearest stream. Nutrients from fertilizers feed algae blooms, which can make our lakes and ponds ugly and smelly. When the algae die and decompose, the oxygen level in the water drops, killing aquatic organisms. Test your soil before fertilizing and choose native plants that require less fertilizer to thrive.

Pesticides, herbicides and insecticides - These chemicals are designed to kill a variety of pests. During storms, rainwater washes these chemicals from plants and the soil and into the storm drains. When pesticides are released into the environment, they can kill or severely harm native plants, animals and insects. Use the least toxic pesticides and herbicides and follow label directions. Learn how to prevent pest problems and weed problems without pesticides and herbicides.

Yard waste - Throwing or blowing yard waste (leaves, tree branches, etc.) into the gutter or street adds to stormwater pollution and can clog storm drains, possibly increasing localized flooding. Compost, mulch leaves and grass clippings back into your lawn or bag yard waste for collection. Sweep driveways and sidewalks instead of hosing them down.

Soil erosion and sediment – Sediment is the loose sand and other soil particles that settle at the bottom of a body of water. Soil and sediment caused by erosion settles in storm drains and clogs them, possibly increasing localized flooding. Sediment that is carried through the storm drain destroys natural habitats in steams, prevents natural vegetation from growing and can kill aquatic organisms. Reduce sediment runoff by seeding bare spots.

Only rain down the drain – Remember that stormwater that enters the drain flows untreated into our local waterways. Never dump anything down storm drains or in streams. Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces; consider installing a rain barrel or rain garden to capture stormwater on your property. Treat pool water before draining and do not drain it directly into the street.

Get Involved_Clean the Bay.jpgWhat can businesses do?

  • ​Keep dumpsters closed and leak-free
  • Do not clean equipment outside near storm drains
  • Store chemicals appropriately, preferably indoors
  • For outdoor storage, store items off the ground and covered
  • Keep loading areas clean and clean up spills immediately
  • Maintain stormwater structural controls on your property (e.g., retention basins, drywells, berms, swales)
  • Use herbicides and pesticides sparingly and in accordance with directions on the label; make sure that contractors use appropriate methods
  • Properly dispose of lawn and leaf clippings; make sure that landscape contractors use appropriate methods
  • Pick up litter on your property promptly
  • Follow stormwater protocols for construction sites
  • Install permeable pavers, rain gardens, and other green infrastructure to capture stormwater driveways, sidewalks, and gutters
  • Golf course managers can check out this guide from the Virginia Golf Course Superintendents Association

Protect our waterways. Report stormwater pollution by calling (757) 385-1470 or email us at​.​