About DCR
State Parks
Soil and Water
Dam Safety and

Watershed Integrity Model

map of VCLNA watershed integrity model


The Virginia Watershed Integrity Model was developed to show the relative value of land as it contributes to watershed or water quality integrity. As development pressure continues across the state, remaining resources are being irretrievably lost to development. The Watershed Integrity Model represents important terrestrial features that should be conserved for water quality integrity based on the best available data.

Various studies have been conducted evaluating the relationship between land use and water resource quality. For the Watershed Integrity Model, the input parameters focused on identifying important terrestrial features that contribute to water resources, and, therefore watershed integrity.

The model serves as part of a larger green infrastructure plan, which aims to model where Virginia 's conservation priorities are located to facilitate an integrated approach to planning and development. The development of a GIS model to delineate where lands important for watershed integrity exist may serve as a guide to local government, consultants, and developers. For information on the Virginia ConservationVision and the Green Infrastructure Modeling effort, please visit the Virginia ConservationVision website at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/vaconvision.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Division of Natural Heritage (DCR-DNH) collaborated with the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) and Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Environmental Studies (VCU-CES) in the development of the Watershed Integrity Model.

The watershed integrity model uses a variety of datasets and subsequent derived datasets from analyses run in GIS. Datasets include:

  • Slope
  • Wetland
  • Streams
  • Forest Fragmentation
  • Land Use
  • Public Source Water Protection Areas
  • Ecological Cores / Forested Areas
  • Terrestrial Index
  • Aquatic Index

To access the Virginia Watershed Integrity Model Technical Report, click here.

Application of the Water Quality Model

Some general categories of uses to which the water quality model data can be applied include:

  • Targeting - to identify areas important for maintaining or improving water quality.
  • Prioritizing - to provide primary or additional justification for key conservation land purchases and other protection activities.
  • Local planning - guidance for comprehensive planning and local ordinance and zoning development.
  • Assessment - to review proposed projects for potential impacts.
  • Land management - to guide property owners and public and private land managers in making land management decisions.
  • Public education - to inform the citizenry about the importance of land use and the effect on water quality and watershed integrity.


Maps were produced for the entire Coastal Zone and the Planning District Commissions and included as part of the final report. The report is available online (see above) and on CD by request and include:

  • Maps
  • Methodology
  • Metadata
  • An ArcGIS geodatabase, shapefiles, and/or ArcINFO Grids

Data Download

For more information about the Virginia Watershed Integrity model, please contact Jason Bulluck at jason.bulluck@dcr.virginia.gov or 804-786-8377.

NatureServe Landscape logo
LandScope provides Virginia ConservationVision models in an interactive map, to explore in the context of many other state, regional and national conservation priorities and reference maps. Virginia DCR-Natural Heritage is an active partner with NatureServe and other partners in the development and maintenance of Landscope Virginia, Landscope Chesapeake and LandScope America.

Page last updated 2/11