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Cringe: People are wading in Four Mile Run

Local streams are nice to see and care for, but not for wading
Local streams are nice to see and care for, but not for wading
James George

You see it all of the time where the Four Mile Run flows by the picnic grounds and parents let their children and their pets splash in the water. That is followed by a call to the table, “It’s time to eat.” Oh no it isn’t. It is time to wash your hands. Better yet, it was time to tell the kids earlier, “Don’t play in the water, it is filthy.”

Fisher Price in Ballston Pond
James George

Sure it is a shame, but even the “Dual Survivalists” on the popular television show know that they can’t drink or use the water until it is made potable by boiling it. Even in remote places, animals and other man made sources contaminate the water. Storm sewers are underground one moment, then the next thing you know they are a beautiful stream. They are all connected.

Last year, I saw a dead deer in the creek that had jumped to its death from I-66 overhead and into the stream below. Such things are natural contamination. While working in Shirlington in years past, I looked out the window and periodically witnessed the stream turn green from a polluting business somewhere upstream. That was followed by a fish kill.

When kids and dogs play in the local streams and rivers, make sure they take a bath when they get home. Tell the kids not to eat or put their hands near their eyes and mouth until they have washed their hands with soap and water. Don't eat the fish either.

There is an email from “Ballston Pond” that talks about the effect on dogs in the water.

“Should Fido be in the Water?

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 09:00 AM PDT

As the temperatures rise, many take their pups out to play and go for a dip in one of Arlington’s streams. I often hear the question, “Is it safe for my dog to go in the water?” This is a hard question to answer and the answer ultimately lies with the owner’s willingness to accept risk.
If the water is clear, that does not mean that it is “clean.” E. coli bacteria, which comes from humans, dogs, cats, racoons, and other warm-blooded animals, can be present at high levels in clear water. Jurisdictions commonly test E. coli levels because there is a correlation between the presence of this bacteria and the presence of viruses and other bacteria that could make you or your dog ill. The County’s volunteer monitoring program tests the E. coli levels once a month at sites around Arlington. Our data from the Banneker and Shirlington dog parks has shown more frequent instances of high E. coli levels when compared to other sites around the County.

Bacteria is not the only risk to your pet’s safety. It is not unusual for there to be broken glass or sharp metal in the streams that is difficult to see and could cut a dog’s paw. Also, we are a community with an old infrastructure system and sometimes sewer lines break. It can take several hours for a break to be noticed and reported. While the County does its best to quickly alert residents when there has been a break that impacts our streams, there is a gap of time between the break and it being reported and stopped.”

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