One of the City's most valuable natural resources is undoubtedly its surface water resources.
What is a Watershed?
A watershed is the area of land which drains to a lake, river, wetland, or other waterway. According to John Wesley Powell, a scientist, geographer, and explorer, a watershed is: "...that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community."
Since watersheds are linkages between water, people, and other living things it is important that we understand where they are, and what we need to do to protect them, in order to derive the most benefit from them as well as maintain them for future generations.
While all of Virginia Beach ultimately drains to the Atlantic Ocean, the geography of the City encompasses three primary watersheds - the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and Southern Rivers. These three watersheds determine the direction water flows out of Virginia Beach - north to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, south to the Southern Rivers watershed, or directly to the Atlantic Ocean.
Virginia Beach is divided into eight secondary watersheds. Two of these make up the Atlantic Ocean primary watershed: the Rudee Inlet/Owl Creek and the Small Coastal watersheds. Three secondary watersheds make up the Chesapeake Bay primary watershed: the Elizabeth River, Little Creek, and Lynnhaven River watersheds. The Southern Rivers watershed consists of: the Back Bay, North Landing, and Northwest River secondary watersheds.
Why We Need to Clean Up the Chesapeake Bay
Did you know?
Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. Moreover, they cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US there are 2,110 watersheds.
to see your watershed map.
In Virginia Beach, there are a number of non-profit watershed restoration organizations working with citizens, government, and businesses to inform them of simple steps that can be taken to keep pollutants out of our waterways. We encourage you to learn more about their efforts by browsing through the links on this page. Hopefully, you will be inspired to get involved in their efforts.