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Enjoying Streams

Montgomery County’s outdoor water resources which include lakes, ponds and streams are a valuable resource to be enjoyed and shared by all outdoor enthusiasts.  While we encourage everybody take advantage of these resources there are some basic precautions you should be aware of when recreating in or around any surface water source.

                                                          Image of Do Not Swim Warning

Basic Precautions for Recreating in or Around Waterways:

  • Do not enter any stream that is swollen beyond its banks with swift flow.  The danger exists for flash flooding, loss of property, or even, physical harm.

  • Be aware that streams and surface water bodies contain bacteria that wash off surfaces during rainfall events.  Sources of these bacteria can be wildlife, pets and human activity.  Exposure to these bacteria through open cuts or ingestion of the water can cause illness.

  • Clean up your pet’s waste.  Not only will this help prevent adding more bacteria to surface waters, but it is required by Montgomery County Code, Sec. 5-203(a)(2)

  • If you MUST enter any surface water, wear protective footwear. You may encounter sharp objects and broken glass. NEVER enter a stormwater pond.

  • Always wash unprotected skin areas exposed to surface water after contact.

  • Be aware of snakes and other animals that live in and around our surface waters.

  • Most animals found in our surface waters are protected by Federal and State laws.  Please leave them in place for the enjoyment of all.

  • Do not release unwanted aquatic pets into surface waters.  This does no good for the unwanted pet and you may be inadvertently introducing an invasive species into the natural ecosystem.  

  • If you see a problem in or around any surface water source please, contact 311 to report the issue.

Image of two girls enjoying Booze Creek, a County stream.
Wear closed toes or other protective footwear if entering a County waterbody.


Common Stream Problems

Image of sediment contamination of a stream.
Sediment from a construction site (Brown color)

Rain and melted snow flow over concrete, asphalt and other developed surfaces on the way to storm drains and then our local waters (streams, ponds and lakes).  Along the journey, stormwater can pick up trash, pollutants and other materials.

These pollutants, depending on their type, can cause visually discolored water, floating sheen, foul odors and residues. The pollutants can sometimes even results in distressed or dying aquatic animals.  

Some of the Most Common Stream Concerns Reported to DEP:

  • Brown or rust colored water:  This can be associated with sediment discharges from construction sites or public water main breaks.

  • Gray colored water:  This can be associated with runoff from the clean out of concrete trucks and/or concrete construction sites.

  • White colored water:  This is generally associated with the improper disposal of paint waste.

  • Gray colored water with sewage odor and/or bits of paper:  This is generally associated with a sanitary sewer overflow.

  • Improper disposal of yard trim debris:  Dumping of yard trim in and around streams is considered illegal dumping.  

  • Improper clean up of pet waste:  You are required to clean up after your pet by Montgomery County Code, Sec. 5-203(a)(2)

If you see a problem in or around any surface water source, please contact311 to report the issue.


Image of paint contamination of a stream
Paint contamination of a stream. (White color)


Follow-up Resources