Although everyone lives in a watershed, most people don't know the actual meaning of the word. Put simply, a watershed is all the land that drains into a given body of water. This body of water can be a creek, pond, river or ocean. Generally speaking, the larger the body of water, the larger its watershed. The Chesapeake Bay watershed, for example, covers 64,000 square miles and drains from six states including 60 percent of Virginia.
This map depicts the major rivers' watersheds in the Old Dominion. One thing all of these watersheds have in common is people, and where you have people, you have land-disturbance. When people alter land - to farm, to build, to landscape, for transportation, etc. - they must ensure that changes don't cause runoff pollution for other people or plants and animals downstream that depend on clean, usable water.
The technical term for this type of pollution is nonpoint source pollution (NPS), and it's a thread you'll find common to nearly every page in the soil and water conservation section of DCR's website. Regardless of the watershed in which you live - and each watershed has unique NPS pollution problems - there are many ways all of us, from farmers to elementary school children, can prevent such pollution to keep Virginia's creeks, rivers and bays clean and productive. Click here to learn simple ways to reduce the threat of NPS pollution and make Virginia an even better place to live.
If you'd like to learn more about Virginia's watersheds, there's plenty of material available from DCR to help you promote watershed awareness. A 10-minute video, Watershed Connections, brochure, large poster of the state's watersheds, kids' conservation activities booklet, bumper stickers and watershed yellow pages for the major river basins are yours for the asking. Just call toll-free 1-877-42WATER or your regional DCR office. Click here to download a copy of Watershed Connections, a brochure that details ways you can help your watershed. To learn about the more technical aspects of hydrologic unit delineation and notation, please click here.
Introduction, overview of nonpoint source (NPS) pollution
(NPS) pollution awareness
Adopt-A-Stream - You can help!
Agricultural Best Management Practices
Agricultural BMP Cost-Share training for SWCDs
Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP)
Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (license plate grant program)
Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategies (2005)
Clean Water Farm Awards
Conservation Marketing Warehouse (for SWCDs wanting to improve their identity)
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (Virginia's)
CREP incentive table
Engineers' Toolkit: Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) Permit Regulations
Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC)
ESC Training and Certification
Farm animal data overview
Glossary of soil and water conservation terms
Grant Project Management Manual
Healthy Waters Initiative
Hydrologic Unit Geography
Local Conservation Water Quality Ordinances
NPS Assessment and Prioritization
NPS Grants Program
Nutrient Management Training Opportunities
Plant More Plants to keep Virginia's waterways clean
Poultry Litter Transport Incentive Program
Public Beach Program
Responsible Land Disturber Certificate of Competence Program
Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs)
Soil and Water Conservation Puzzles for Kids
SWCD Dam Ownership Reference and Training Resources
SWCDs listed by locality
Section 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program
Shoreline Erosion Advisory Service
Soil and Water Conservation Board
Virginia Rivers - Jump Right In! (tips on keeping Virginia's waterways clean)
Virginia Stream Restoration and Stabilization Best Management Practices Guide, 2004
VSMP (VPDES) Permitting for Construction Activities and Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems
Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) Permit Regulations (effective Jan. 29, 2005) Engineers' Toolkit
Water Quality Improvement Act
The Directory of Virginia SWCDs is on the Virginia Association of SWCDs website.