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.

Roundabout Meadows sign in front of a meadow

George Mason University students to survey Roundabout Meadows vegetation

George Mason University plant ecology students are helping The Piedmont Environmental Council measure the success of our wetlands restoration effort at Roundabout Meadows. With a grant from the Virginia Native Plant Society, the students are …
scenic rivers map

Scenic Rivers in the Piedmont – A StoryMap

In 2020, the state of Virginia commemorates 50 years of dedication and commitment to the conservation of Virginia’s water resources through the Virginia Scenic Rivers Program. In honor of that anniversary, PEC Fellowship program participants, Meredith …
Capturing the Rain: Green Infrastructure Options for HOA Common Areas

Capturing the Rain: Green Infrastructure Options for HOA Common Areas

Many residents frequent common areas that are managed by homeowners associations, churches, or local governments. How these entities manage their public landscapes can have a profound effect on the health of our local ecosystems, wildlife, …
Virginia State Capitol

So Many Bills, So Little Time

It is March, a time when most people eagerly await the end of winter and embrace the first signs of spring. For me, the spring also marks the end of long days and nights spent …
Carina and Dean Elgin at their fence.

Fronting the Costs: Fencing at Mountain Hollow Farm

Eight generations of cattle farming had taken its toll on the streams at Dean and Carina Elgin’s Mountain Hollow Farm in northern Fauquier County. Historically, “all the cattle had access to the creek. That was …
What will tomorrow bring?

What will tomorrow bring?

This year’s Virginia General Assembly promises to be an interesting one, as the November 2019 elections resulted in a change in leadership in both the House and the Senate. A new Speaker of the House …
A Fish Runs Through It

A Fish Runs Through It

As the fog broke on a brisk November morning in Madison County, more than three dozen people arrived at the Whiteoak Canyon trailhead ready to celebrate the new, 35-foot, open-span bridge over Cedar Run. They …
Whiteoak Canyon Trailhead

Whiteoak Canyon Trailhead

SYRIA, VA: The new 35-foot span bridge across Cedar Run offers hikers and nature-loving community members improved access to the popular Whiteoak Canyon trailhead and opening up three miles of stream habitat to native fish for …
fill dirt in Loudoun County

A Dirty Secret: How Construction Waste is Making its Way Onto Rural Lands

Steve and Jennifer Rainwater’s world was turned upside down in 2017 when an access road was built along their property line and hundreds of dump trucks started arriving to dump dirt, non-stop, on a section of …
Protecting the Goose Creek Watershed

Protecting the Goose Creek Watershed

PEC was recently awarded a $15,600 grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment to further our work identifying and prioritizing opportunities to implement agricultural best management practices (BMPs) and strengthen efforts on land protected by conservation …