Clean Waters Initiative: Why
Local Waters Go Beyond Borders
Loudoun County is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (CBW). There are 17 smaller watersheds in Loudoun County (seemap), each draining to a local river or stream that is part of the CBW.
The Chesapeake Bay Watershed includes portions of six different states - Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia - and the District of Columbia. The watershed spans more than 64,000 square miles, and is home to almost 18 million people. The Susquehanna, Potomac, York, James, and Rappahannock rivers are the five largest in the CBW. In total, more than 100,000 streams, creeks, and rivers are in the CBW.
- Chesapeake Bay Program - The Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- Loudoun County Department of Building and Development - Major Watersheds in Loudoun County
- Stream Conditions Near You - Interactive Tool
Support Healthy Communities
Clean water is essential to building and sustaining healthy communities. Surface water and groundwater are critical to the economic and environmental health of Loudoun County. We rely on abundant supplies of clean, safe water for drinking, agriculture, industry, and recreation, as well as to support the natural ecosystems. It is important that we take care of our local waters and the Chesapeake Bay by limiting the amount of pollution we produce. Excess nutrients and sediments have been found to negatively affect the quality of our local waters, rivers, and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.
Nutrients - Too Much of a Good Thing is Bad
Nutrients are chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorus that plants and animals need to grow and survive. Although nutrients are a natural part of the environment, excess nutrients can be harmful to aquatic environments. In aquatic environments, excess nutrients can fuel the growth of algae. Algae blooms can block the sunlight from reaching underwater grasses, and during decomposition, can create dead zones by robbing oxygen needed for other marine life.
There are three main sources of nutrient pollution to local water and the Bay. These include:
- Wastewater treatment plants
- Urban, suburban, and agricultural runoff
- Air pollution
What You Can Do
You can help reduce nutrient pollution using the following tips:
- Use only the amount of fertilizer you need on your lawn or fields
- Dispose of all household chemicals properly
- Clean up after your pet
- Reduce emissions - Bike, Walk, or Carpool
- Maintain your septic system
- Chesapeake Bay Program - Nutrients
- Virginia Department of Environmental Quality - Nonpoint Source Pollution
- US Fish and Wildlife Service - Nutrient Pollution
- NOAA - What is nutrient pollution?
Sediment - Dirty Water Degrades Water Quality
Sediment consists of loose particles of sand, silt, and clay on the bottom of rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. Suspended sediment pushed into the water by erosion is one of the biggest impairments to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.
Erosion increases as vegetation is cleared for agricultural uses and development. Sediment can cloud local streams, rivers, and the Bay blocking the sunlight needed for underwater grasses to grow. Sediment settles to the bottom of the water body, covering bottom habitats and reducing overall water quality for fish and other aquatic species.
What You Can Do
You can help reduce sediment pollution by combating erosion on your property. Tips includes:
- Putting mulch down on bare ground
- Planting native trees and shrubs on your property