Chesapeake Bay

PD16 sits in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed– meaning that all water in this region drains to the Chesapeake Bay eventually. The Chesapeake Bay watershed spans more than 64,000 square miles, encompassing parts of six states—Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia—and the entire District of Columbia. More than 18 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The land-to-water ratio of the Chesapeake Bay is 14:1—the largest of any coastal water body in the world. This is why our actions on land have such a big impact on the Bay’s health.

Coastal Zone Management

Virginia boasts more than 5,000 miles of shorelines and the Virginia Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program works every day to protect our coastal resources and the industries and livelihoods that depend upon them.

Environmental Services Strategic Plan

The purpose of this strategic plan is to identify the region’s environmental service needs, coordinate the requirements of related programs, create a list of strategies, and develop an implementation plan.

Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure is an interconnected network of natural areas, other open spaces, and management practices that conserve natural ecosystem functions, sustain clean air, promote water quality, and provide a wide array of benefits to people and wildlife.

Hazard Mitigation

Hazard Mitigation is the sum of the many actions that can be taken at the local and regional level to reduce or eliminate the risk to human life and property from a variety of natural hazards, including drought, hurricanes, winter storms, and wildfires. Mitigation happens before disaster strikes, saving communities time, effort, and money as opposed to reacting only after an emergency.

Native Plants

Plant Central Rappahannock Natives is a marketing campaign of a coalition of non-profit, governmental, and private partners, all working to reverse the decline of native plants and wildlife in Planning District 16. GWRC oversaw the formation of this campaign, and continues to oversee campaign materials and provide staff support to the campaign steering committee.

Urban Heat Island

Urban Heat Island Effect is when the temperature in an area with a high concentration of impervious surfaces such as buildings, asphalt, concrete, and dark materials is higher than the surrounding areas. These are surfaces that absorb and trap heat to re-emit throughout the day and into the night.


GWRC conducted a study on property owner compliance with the mandatory 5-year septic system inspection and/or septic tank pump-outs required under Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (CBPA) in an effort to help the region meet Chesapeake Bay TMDL goal to reduce Nitrogen (N) and bacteria loads.

Water Quality

An analysis of DEQ’s 2022 Integrated Report applied to Planning District 16. Big takeaways include:

1. This region struggles with bacterial contamination (80.6% of impaired rivers had E. coli as a cause). This is mirrored in the state where bacteria is the #1 pollutant (see page 22 of DEQ Integrated Report Summary– chart to right)

2. Most of our lakes and reservoirs are severely impaired, and it’s getting worse. DEQ’s 2022 data shows that most of the impairment in lakes in our regions comes from Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs (61.11%). The source of these PCBs is listed as “unknown.”

3. Most of our rivers have insufficiently data to be categorized, yet only a small portion of lakes are unclassified.