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.

a young woman plants a tree

Rappahannock Headwater Stream Initiative

The Headwater Stream Initiative is a joint project of The Piedmont Environmental Council and Friends of the Rappahannock …
a woman and child plant a tree together

James River Buffer Program

Our partners at the James River Association, Virginia Department of Forestry, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation are working with landowners across the middle and upper James watershed to restore or create forest buffers that improve the …
aerial photo of orange county where wilderness crossing is proposed

Wilderness Crossing developer proposes reckless path forward

In January, the developer behind Wilderness Crossing submitted a letter to the county regarding unreclaimed mine sites on the 2,602-acre property …
a green tree tube with surrounding trees tubes in a field during a planting event

Potomac Planting Program

The Potomac Planting Program includes properties in the Potomac River watershed of Clarke, Loudoun and Fauquier counties …
Headshot of Dr. Sam Ahdoot

Conservation Easement Stories: Dr. Sam Ahdoot

Dr. Sam Ahdoot placed her land in Rappahannock County under a conservation easement with The Piedmont Environmental Council in 2019. The easement was designed to have many public benefits, including the protection of clean water, …
a map that show the Wilderness Crossing site in red, with at least seven former mine sites denote with pick axe symbols

Shocking news about historic gold mining contamination

Last fall, PEC learned some important new information related to the gold mining legacy at the proposed site of the Wilderness Crossing residential development: of the five formally-named gold mines located on the property, none …
aerial image of forested land next to a major road

Wilderness Crossing: New Residential Development or Potential Superfund Site?

In November 2021, PEC learned that of the five formally-named gold mine sites located on the proposed Wilderness Crossing residential development, none of them have been closed and cleaned up – a process called “reclamation.” …
Working Together for Clean Water and the Brook Trout
a smaller stream entering a large river, with green land on all sides