Clean Waters Initiative: At Home
Fertilizing Your Lawn
Lawn fertilizers contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that help your grass and plants grow. When these nutrients are applied in excess, they can run-off or leach into nearby streams and rivers. Excess nutrients in streams and rivers can negatively impact aquatic life. Algae blooms resulting from excess nutrients block out sunlight and remove oxygen for other aquatic organisms and plants. Over fertilizing also impacts your wallet. Why use or pay for more nutrients than what you may need!
What Can I Do?
You can avoid these impacts by testing your lawn to determine what type of nutrients you may need. Check your local hardware store for soil test kits. The Loudoun County Master Gardeners can also help you assess your lawn through the Healthy Lawn Program. Master Gardeners will measure your yard, test your soil, and then send your lawn sample to Virginia Tech for analysis. Virginia Tech will determine how much lime or fertilizer you may need to support a healthy lawn.
There is a fee for this service.
Rain barrels are a great way to conserve water and minimize your impact on the environment. Rain barrels capture rain from gutters and downspouts and store it for later use. Below is a set of resources provided by the Loudoun County Soil and Water Conservation District (LCSWCD). Each year, LCSWCD has rain barrel workshops where residents can either make a rain barrel or purchase one.
Note: Residents who live in a homeowner's association should review their covenants to determine if rain barrels are allowed in their neighborhood.
Rain gardens use native plants placed above a constructed infiltration basin within your yard to capture water during and after rain events. Water from your roof and driveway runs off into the rain garden where it is soaked up by trees, flowers, shrubs, and other plants. Rain gardens produce many benefits including:
- Improve water quality by removing pollutants
- Provide habitat for insects and birds
- Increase groundwater recharge
- Aesthetically improve your yard
In 2016 the Loudoun County Health Department estimated that there are approximately 14,800 conventional and non-conventional sewage disposal systems installed in Loudoun County.
Why is it Important to Maintain and Monitor My Septic System?
Failure to properly maintain your sewage disposal system can lead to premature system failure, poor system performance, backups in the home, reduced system life, well contamination, ground/surface water contamination and excess nitrogen discharge.
Septic Systems and Nitrogen.
Sewage disposal systems can contribute to excess nitrogen found in local waters and the Chesapeake Bay. Excessive nitrogen can impact water quality by creating algae blooms that decrease oxygen levels important to aquatic life. Below are some examples of how homeowners can help reduce nitrogen impact from septic systems:
- Pump Out Your Septic Tanks
Septic systems achieve nutrient reductions through several types of management practices, including frequent maintenance and septic tank pumping of scum and solids. On average, septic tanks need to be pumped once every three to five years to maintain effectiveness. In Loudoun County septic tanks are required to be pumped out every five years per Chapter 1066 of the Loudoun County Codified Ordinances.
- Install Septic Denitrification System
There are several alternative onsite sewage systems (AOSS) that have additional nitrogen removal capabilities, able to provide treatment of nitrogen through processes that encourage denitrification of the wastewater. Since Loudoun County is located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Virginia's Alternative Onsite Sewage System Regulations now require all AOSS's installed in the county to meet nitrogen reduction standards.
- Connecting to Public Sewer
Convert to “public” sewer when it becomes available. Connecting to public sewer helps by allowing the sewage to be treated at a more advanced wastewater treatment facility.
NEW! Water and Wastewater Program.
Loudoun County Communities experiencing issues with deficient or non-existent wastewater systems may be eligible for assistance under the County’s Water and Wastewater Program. Assistance may include help with connecting to public utility or disposal to a properly designed onsite sewage disposal system. To learn more about this program please visit www.loudoun.gov/WaterProjects
or contact Scott Fincham at (703) 771-5520.
To learn more about septic tank pump outs, proper system operation & maintenance, and system nitrogen requirements please contact the Loudoun County Health Department at (703) 777-0234.