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DEQ Dashboard: Water

Water Water Quality

Everyone uses water, every day. To meet society’s needs, businesses, industries and households often discharge pollutants into waterways. These practices are closely monitored by DEQ to make sure that levels of pollutants entering Virginia’s waterways are kept to minimal levels.  The agency upholds water quality standards to ensure safe recreation and support for a diversity of aquatic life.  Virginia’s goal of no-net loss of wetlands continues to be met and helps support Virginia’s high quality water resources.

Discharge permits are effective tools that the agency uses to regulate facilities.  These permits determine the types and amounts of pollutants that can be safely discharged.  High levels of nutrient pollution (nitrogen and phosphorus) pose a challenge to Virginia’s waters.  This common form of pollution may result in algal growth that can reduce oxygen and even create “dead zones,” or areas that are unable to sustain life. Since 1995, levels of phosphorus and nitrogen have seen significant decreases.

DEQ employs several programs to ensure wise use of our finite water supply.  The agency issues permits for the use of surface water and groundwater to ensure that in-stream and off-stream uses can continue to be met over the long term. This is achieved by balancing human water needs with sufficient in-stream flow for fish and wildlife habitat, dilution of pollution, recreation, and navigation.  In partnership with affected stakeholders, DEQ identifies sources of surface water and groundwater, monitors availability, documents current levels of water use, and plans for meeting future expectations for these water sources.  To balance these uses of Virginia’s water supply, DEQ relies on active, ongoing scientific research and effective stakeholder engagement.

Chesapeake Bay

Nutrient pollution (total amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus) released into the Chesapeake Bay by significant Virginia discharge sources) has greatly decreased since 1999, and exceeds the target goal for restoration. 

Groundwater monitoring wells

This measure captures the trends in depth to water level of six USGS monitoring wells in the Potomac Aquifers.  The preferred trend is for monitoring wells to show a rebounding depth to water level.  Based on 2016 monitoring, three trend wells show a rebounding depth to water level (USGS 091F, USGS 171B, and USGS 179A) while three trend wells show a declining depth to water level (USGS 55H 20, USGS 55P 5, USGS 56G 57).  The corresponding map and graphs demonstrate the spatial distribution of the monitoring wells as well as water levels in feet of each well, respectively. 

Impaired Waters List

As of 2012, at total of 1,820 miles of rivers and streams, 21,800 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 29 square miles of estuary have been classified as “fully restored.” In addition, 29 streams around the state are now classified as “exceptional waters.” 

Watershed restoration projects

More than 50 non-point source watershed projects have been undertaken with grant assistance to restore water to standards.



Wetland acres being impacted are being replaced; the number of acres saved is greater than the number of acres developed or converted, so the goal of no-net loss continues to be exceeded.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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