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Virginia's Major Watersheds

virginia map

Watershed size, tributaries

Name Area (sq. miles) Major Tributaries
Potomac - Shenandoah 5,702 Potomac River, S. Fork Shenandoah, N. Fork Shenandoah
Chesapeake Bay Coastal 2,577 Chesapeake Bay, Piankatank
Atlantic Ocean Coastal 580 Chincoteague Bay, Hog Island Bay
Rappahannock 2,714 Rappahannock River, Rapidan River, Hazel River
York 2,669 York River, Pamunkey River, Mattaponi River
James 10,236 James River, Appomattox River, Maury River, Jackson River, Rivanna River
Chowan 3,675 Nottaway River, Meherrin River, Blackwater River
Albemarle Sound Coastal 577 Dismal Swamp, North Landing River, Back Bay
Roanoke 6,274 Roanoke River, Dan River, Banister River, Kerr Reservoir
Yadkin 118 Ararat River
New 3,068 New River, Little River, Walker Creek
Holston (Upper Tennessee)1,322 N. Fork Holston River, Middle Fork Holston River, S. Fork Holston River
Clinch - Powell 1,811 Clinch River, Powell River, Guest River
Big Sandy 999 Levisa Fork, Russel Fork, Tug Fork

Here's a list of DCR soil and water conservation contacts sorted by locality.

Watershed planning guide

Local Watershed Managemetn Planning in VirginiaLocal Watershed Management Planning In Virginia - Local and regional governments and community groups devote many resources to planning and development. This document examines those resources and helps those involved "pull it all together" from a whole watershed perspective. Click here to download.

Click here to download the free Adobe Acrobat reader, which is required to view or print the guide.

Virginia watershed websites

Chesapeake Bay watershed profiles - About 60 percent of the commonwealth drains to the bayChesapeake Bay, the world's most productive estuary. Those watersheds include the Potomac (including Shenandoah), Rappahannock, York and James rivers as well as coastal lands on the bay's shoreline. You can learn more about these watersheds by visiting the Chesapeake Bay Program's website that provides detailed profiles on each. Click here to visit the site.

Click here to learn about the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program (managed by North Carolina; Virginia's Chowan River and land around the Virginia Beach-Chesapeake area drain into the region).

Click here to visit the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program's website.

Click here to visit the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) river system index. Southwestern Virginia's Holston, Clinch and Powell rivers' watersheds drain to the Tennessee River.

Rivers and Watersheds - The Geology of Virginia (College of William and Mary)

Virginia Watershed Land Use (Virginia Tech, 4H)

Forests of the Eastern United States (Virginia Tech, 4H)