Tributary Strategies

Since its inception in the early 1980s, the Chesapeake Bay Program identified an over abundance of nutrients as the most damaging water quality problem facing the Bay and its tributaries. High levels of nutrients, primarily phosphorus and nitrogen, over-fertilize the Bay waters, causing excess levels of algae. These algae can have a direct impact on submerged aquatic vegetation by blocking light from reaching these plants. More importantly, these algae affect the level of dissolved oxygen in the water, which is needed by oysters, fish, crabs and other aquatic animals.

In 1992, Virginia joined other Chesapeake Bay Program partners in determining that the most effective means of reaching that water quality goal would be to develop tributary-specific strategies in each Chesapeake Bay river basin.

Late in 1996, Virginia released its first tributary strategy, the Shenandoah and Potomac River Basins Tributary Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  In 1999 and 2000, stakeholders within Virginia’s lower Bay basins published the strategy documents for the Rappahannock, York, James and Eastern Shore basins, as well as a Statewide strategy, after several years of collaborative work. The primary purpose of these lower basin strategies was to restore habitat conditions, particularly dissolved oxygen and underwater vegetation, in order to support living resources.

Virginia's tributary strategies have been replaced through the establishment of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, corresponding submittal of Phase I and Phase II WIPs, and continuing progress under the 2-year Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Milestones. 

(The text found here is excerpted and adapted from the Executive Summaries of the Rappahannock, York, and Eastern Shore Tributary Strategy documents.)

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


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