Local Watersheds, TMDLs, and the Chesapeake Bay

Learn about watersheds in the TJSWCD and the Clean Water Act that authorizes TMDLs.

Information on current TMDL planning and implementation for impaired streams in the TJSWCD

Forms, Documents, and Downloads related to local TMDLs.




Working to restore the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

Forms, documents and downloads related to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.

The Clean Water Act and TMDLs

Under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to implement the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program. This program is administered by Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. A TMDL is the maximum amount of pollution a water body can tolerate and still meet its "designated use." There are 6 designated uses for surface waters in Virginia:

    1. Aquatic life
    2. Fish consumption
    3. Public water supplies (where applicable)
    4. Recreation (swimming)
    5. Shellfish
    6. Wildlife

Through monitoring and assessment, if surface water is found to not meet any one of these uses, it is considered “impaired.” To restore an impaired water body, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality works with local stakeholders to develop a TMDL, also known as a “pollution diet,” for the watershed of that waterbody. To learn more about water quality and TMDLs, click here.

Watersheds of the TJSWCD

The TJSWCD has land areas in three major river basins - James River, York River, and a small portion in the Rappahannock River. Portions of Albemarle County, the entire City of Charlottesville, and portions of Fluvanna County are part of the Rivanna River watershed, the largest tributary of the James River upstream of Richmond. All of the land area within the TJSWCD eventually drains into the Chesapeake Bay.

To learn more about your local watershed, check out the interacticve map Virginia Hydrologic Unit Explorer or view a map of the TJSWCD watersheds (PDF).

The Chesapeake Bay TMDL

The Chesapeake Bay is a 64,000 square mile watershed draining from six states (New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware) and Washington, D.C.

The health of the Bay has been declining for the past 25 years due to pollution from all sectors – agricultural, industrial, forestry, and urban. The pollutants of concern for the Bay are nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment. Though these are naturally occurring elements (and soil), there is more entering into the Chesapeake Bay than the Bay can handle. Instead of being a balanced, healthy ecosystem, these excess pollutants causes algal blooms creating “dead zones” and block sunlight from getting to submerged aquatic grasses, an essential component of the Bay’s fragile ecosystem.

The Chesapeake Bay TMDL calls for a targeted amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment to enter the Bay watershed by 2025 in order for the ecosystem to begin to repair itself. Based on this target, each of the six states and Washington, D.C. developed “watershed implantation plans” (WIPs) that lay the groundwork needed to meet this challenge. Virginia’s WIP was submitted in two phases – Phase I and II. A link to Virginia's Phase II WIP is available in the documents below.

The Chesapeake Bay TMDL requires pollution to be reduced from all sectors. Virginia’s WIP calls for an increase in cost-share funding to support Best Management Practice (BMP) implementation in the agricultural sector. In December 2013, Virginia’s Governor announced $22.9M in grant funding to local governments implementing urban stormwater BMPs and retrofits. Additionally, implementation of local TMDL plans – such as in the Upper Rockfish watershed– works towards achieving the Bay-basin goal. For more information, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program website.

Chesapeake Bay TMDL Documents

    Don't Fence Me In!

    An article from the Washington Spectator on the District's role in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. (PDF)

Current TMDLs in the TJSWCD

Upper Rockfish TMDL

A TMDL Implementation Plan was developed and approved for the North and South Forks of the Rockfish River and a portion of its main stem. The implementation area is located in northern Nelson County and southern Albemarle County.

To support the pollution reductions needed to help restore the health of the River, the District can provide supplemental cost-share assistance for farm conservation practices and septic system pumpouts, repairs, and replacements within the Upper Rockfish River watershed. Funding is available to farmers, residents, and homeowners. For more information, please download the brochures in the Upper Rockfish Documents section or you can reach Luke Longanecker at (434) 975-0224, extension 106 or contact him through the contact form.

Tye River Watershed TMDL

A TMDL Implementation Plan was developed and approved for the Tye River, Piney River, Hat Creek and Rucker Run Watersheds. The implementation area is located in the Western part of Nelson County.

To support the pollution reductions needed to help restore the health of the River, the District can provide supplemental cost-share assistance for farm conservation practices and septic system pumpouts, repairs, and replacements within the Tye River Watershed. Funding is available to farmers, residents, and homeowners. For more information, please download the brochures in the Tye River Watershed Documents section or you can reach Luke Longanecker at (434) 975-0224, extension 106 or contact him through the contact form.

Pending TMDLs in the TJSWCD

Moores Creek, Lodge Creek, Meadow Creek & Schenks Branch TMDL

Pamunkey River & Tributaries TMDL

Hardware River & North Fork Hardware River TMDL

Cunningham Creek Watershed TMDL

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON!

Pending TMDL Documents

Moores Creek, Lodge Creek, Meadow Creek & Schenks Branch TMDL Documents

Pamunkey River & Tributaries TMDL