Clean Water

Water is the lifeblood of our land, communities and economy. From the headwater streams of Shenandoah National Park to the Chesapeake Bay, water flows through all of our land. PEC helps landowners and residents across the Virginia Piedmont improve water quality in the region through land conservation, riparian buffer and stream restoration projects, the implementation of agricultural best management practices, and the promotion of more sustainable land use.

Our Watershed Approach

Locally, what we do in our backyards matters to downstream users. Activities on land can increase the amount of pollution that enters waterways, from car oils and fuels to fertilizers and animal waste. All pollution moves with water and sediment and rates of pollution can increase where there is erosion along streambanks in rural settings, or where there is increased impervious surfaces like pavement and rooftops in urban areas.

Efforts to maximize good land use, ranging from farming and forestry to cities and suburbs work to meet watershed goals for the Chesapeake Bay. Land use practices involving energy, agriculture, and urban, suburban and industrial development have a major impact on the available water supply.

Energy projects

Pipelines for gas and transmission lines for power can disrupt watersheds, too. Forests and fields that provide habitat and filter clean water for streams are impacted by large-scale infrastructure. PEC encourages smart management of energy infrastructure, so the placement of gas pipelines and transmission lines does not create a harmful barrier for stream pathways.

Agricultural lands management

Agricultural best management practices (BMPs) include a wide range of management strategies to conserve natural land and water quality while simultaneously improving agricultural production. These best management practices have many benefits that protect water quality, such as decreasing chemical runoff and fencing around streams to prevent harmful erosion. In addition, agricultural BMPs such as rotational grazing, fencing, and protection of native grasses increase cattle safety and soil health, benefiting the rural agricultural economy.

Urban, suburban and industrial development

PEC’s promotion of smart development and growth ensures sustainable long-term land use and complements best management practices for conserving land. Local infrastructure is sustained as good investments when communities choose green infrastructure, and roads are built to minimally impact the health of streams and forests. Partnering with landowners, residents, and HOAs, and working with developers toward these goals, ensures the continued sense of place for future generations in the Piedmont.

Protecting Thumb Run

Protecting Thumb Run

What’s good for wildlife is often good for water quality,” said Celia Vuocolo, PEC’s wildlife habitat and stewardship specialist, as she spoke to guests at the fifth Annual Thumb Run Open House. This sentiment was …
Fenced in at Roundabout Meadows

Fenced in at Roundabout Meadows

Polluted water is not only bad for us and the environment, but it’s bad for livestock as well,” says Celia Vuocolo, habitat and stewardship specialist at PEC. A significant stewardship project is wrapping up this …
aerial image of a rural farm. there are tree tubes adjacent to a stream between two sets of fences

Other Cost-Share Programs

Learn more about the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and Soil & Water Conservation District Ag BMP cost-share programs …
Bolton Branch trout stream

Trout Streams

Planting riparian buffers along native trout streams is a priority for the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR). Many of the headwater streams of the Upper Rappahannock watershed support Eastern brook …
aerial image of a river surrounded by spring-colored trees and further away, farmland and mountains

Why Riparian Buffers?

Riparian buffers are the vegetated areas along rivers, streams, creeks, and other waterways. They provide a number of important benefits for stream health, people and wildlife …
image

Good News for the Brook Trout

We’re continuing our efforts to increase the habitat available to the eastern brook trout and other fish species with two pilot culvert removal projects …
PEC receives NFWF grant

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded PEC a $200,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund this past October. With this grant, PEC will collaborate with Loudoun County, the Town of Lovettsville, Loudoun County …
Brook trout. Photo by Chris Anderson.

Teaming Up to Save the “Brookie”

Virginia’s state fish, the eastern brook trout, is in trouble. The Commonwealth’s only native trout has seen a sharp decline in population due to a detrimental combination of rising temper­atures, physical barriers to streamflow, pollution, …
stream monitoring volunteers

Helping Hands for Spout Run

CLARKE– Clarke County’s Spout Run watershed has the potential to provide clean water and support a large variety of wildlife species. Yet, the stream is on the State Impaired Waters List due to nutrient and …
fracking site

‘Fracking’ on Conserved Land?

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) is an important state public agency that has taken part in conserving land in the Commonwealth since 1966. Today, VOF is the largest easement holder in Virginia, and PEC is …