Excess nutrients in runoff are a chief threat to water quality. When it rains, the rain can cause erosion, pick up nutrients and chemicals, and run off the land into our waterways. These hitchhikers help us grow crops and have a nice lawn, but degrade our streams, rivers, lakes and bays. Nutrients can lead to harmful algal blooms that kill underwater plants and destroy habitat that aquatic life needs to survive. They can also lead to water with little or no dissolved oxygen, again to the detriment of aquatic life that happen to be a food source for people.
Nutrient management and soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) play a pivotal role in preventing such runoff. In fact, SWCDs have been in the business of fighting erosion and preventing pollution since the mid-1930s. And Virginia's 47 districts still wage the good fight, focusing mainly on on-the-ground work. DCR works closely with districts and farmers, urban and suburban landowners, and other land managers to cut this harmful runoff, but controlling runoff pollution is everyone's business. Each of us causes runoff pollution, and each of us must act to reduce its effects.
The Directory of Virginia SWCDs is on the Virginia Association of SWCDs website.