Operation Stream Shield (OSS) is a Fairfax County interagency program to improve the water quality of County streams while at the same time transforming lives of under- and unemployed adults. While OSS was originally created to focus on the removal of trash reaching the County’s waterways and riparian zones in accordance with the County’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, the County has formed a partnership between the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) and the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness (OPEH) to utilize the County’s residents experiencing homelessness (clients) to not only remove litter but manage invasive species, perform general landscaping and complete other special projects as needed. The County currently partners with four homeless shelters to carry out this program.
The MS4 Coordination Section coordinates with internal and external agencies to focus on workforce development pathways that provide clients with opportunities to develop knowledge and skills to participate in a diverse economy and earn income to support themselves. In 2020, Operation Stream Shield alone removed 21,015 pounds of trash throughout the County. Thirty-one clients participated in the program. Seventeen clients found full-time employment, with four of them starting to work for Fairfax County.