August 4, 2021

DEP is Highlighting At-Risk ‘Stream Critters’ During Water Quality Month

American Eel
August is National Water Quality Month and the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is highlighting at-risk stream critters to bring awareness to the water quality in County streams.

Each of the at-risk critters has a unique history to Montgomery County and interesting attributes. They include:
  • American Eel—only fish in our area that begins life in seawater (Bahamas and Bermuda area) and travels to freshwater streams for adulthood.
  • Acuminate Crayfish—unique to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties (found largely in the Anacostia watershed).
  • Giant Stonefly—very sensitive to water pollution. Its lack of abundance is an indicator of less than pristine conditions.
  • Marbled Salamander—has a poison tail that helps fend off predators.
  • Yellow Lance Mussel—Federally Threatened Species only found in Patuxent Watershed in Maryland.
“Water is essential to life, but far too often we take clean water for granted," said County Executive Marc Elrich. "I appreciate our Department of Environmental Protection's innovative efforts to promote National Water Quality Month by highlighting the immediate danger poor water quality has on our eco-system. We need to minimize pesticides and other runoff into our waterways and we need people to understand the importance of cleaning up our waterways.”

National Water Quality Month dates to two U.S. congressional acts that were passed in the early 1970s to protect water sources. The Clean Water Act, which was passed in 1972, set the Federal government to begin taking steps to curb water pollution by making it illegal to dump high amounts of toxic materials into bodies of water. This set the standard for making sure that surface water was up to certain standards before being used for human consumption and recreation. In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed to further protect the quality of groundwater and public water systems.

National Water Quality Month was founded in 2005 by the Environmental Protection Agency and backed by the United Nations in an effort to promote civic discourse about how to conserve natural water sources. This led to efforts in households and communities to ensure that there would be access to safe, clean drinking water for generations to come.

“There is a direct connection between the quality of water in our streams and wildlife,” said DEP Director Adam Ortiz. “Clean water allows for wildlife to thrive and flourish. Unfortunately, pollutants, pesticides and even pet waste that wash from our streets and lawns flow into our County creeks and streams. The result is stream critters that should be thriving, but instead are at risk because of human actions.”

Throughout August, DEP will be releasing a series of blogs and videos on social media and on highlighting unique stream critters. The series will focus on their histories, what makes them unique, how residents can help protect them and DEP’s approach to improving their habitats.

All year long, DEP is working to improve the water quality of the County with programs in which residents can participate. These include RainScapes gardens, Tree Montgomery and other water restoration projects.

For more information on DEP’s watershed restoration program visit: