News & Announcements

NOVA News/Highlights

Posted on: October 9, 2019

Write as Rain

Only Rain Logo

Rain was predicted and wanted on October 8 when the Write as Rain campaign kicked off in front of the Government Center with Chairman Sharon Bulova and Supervisors Penny Gross, Kathy Smith, Pat Herrity, Jeff McKay and John Foust on hand to demonstrate how hidden messages reveal the number one source of water pollution — polluted stormwater runoff.

“Rain didn’t fall in time for our event,” said Emily Burton, MS4 Program Analyst, Stormwater Planning Division. “So we brought our own water in a very cool, yellow duck watering can.”

The Chairman and Supervisors, Public Works and MS4 program staff stood near the invisible stencil while the watering can was gently tipped toward the soon-to-be-revealed message. Once the water hit the stencil, the slogan Only Rain Down the Drain Please (with three ducks) was visible.

“Thank you to Chairman Bulova, the County Supervisors and Randy Bartlett, Director, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, for attending the event and for your support,” Burton Said.

Messages like “Only Rain Down the Drain” are stenciled on sidewalks, on the top of storm drains and near the entrances of public buildings in Arlington, Alexandria, City of Fairfax and at George Mason University when it isn’t raining. When it rains, the hidden messages are revealed. The biodegradable stencils typically last for two to three months and then fade away.

The goal is to educate residents about water pollution. What better time to do that than when it rains?

The water-activated messages, created with a non-toxic, environmentally safe, invisible spray and stencils (some of which were created by Wattana Savanh, Graphic Artist, DPWES Director’s Office) will display informative and motivational messages emphasizing that clean water for drinking, fishing and outdoor activities starts with a clean stormwater system.

Polluted stormwater runoff negatively affects local streams and the Potomac River, a major source of drinking water for county residents. As a member of Northern Virginia Clean Water Partners, Fairfax County is one of five local institutions participating in the “Write As Rain” campaign, which supplements the Clean Water Partners’ annual “Only Rain Down the Drain” public service announcements that run each spring. The eye-catching campaign is part of a regional effort to motivate Northern Virginians to reduce polluted stormwater runoff.

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission is pleased to coordinate the efforts of the Clean Water Partners campaign with our local government partners and others throughout the region. This effort helps our local governments meet the public education requirement of their stormwater permits, save our local governments money as the campaign is regional in nature and help educate the public at the same time.

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