James City County straddles two major watersheds, the James River Watershed and the York River Watershed. Both are subwatersheds of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which stretches from Pennsylvania to Virginia. Within the James River and York watersheds are eleven other subwatersheds - Powhatan Creek , Chickahominy River ,Yarmouth Creek , College Creek , Diascund Creek ,Gordon Creek, Mill Creek, James River, York River, Skiffe's Creek, and Ware Creek.
Find yourself or a location in James City County and where you fit in with respect to our subwatersheds by browsing our subwatershed map. (CLICK HERE)
Glossary of Watershed Terms
Watershed - All the land that drains to a particular water body. A more technical definition is a defined land area drained by a drainageway, stream or river or a system of connecting drainageways, streams or rivers such that all surface water within the area flows through a single point. (Sources: Watershed Connection and the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook)
Best Management Practice (or BMP) - Structural or nonstructural stormwater practice which is designed to minimize the impacts of changes in land use on surface and groundwater systems. Structural BMP refers to basins or facilities engineered for the purpose of reducing the pollutant load in stormwater runoff such as wet ponds, dry ponds, infiltration basins, bioretention areas, etc. Nonstructural BMP refers to land use or development practices which are determined to be effective in minimizing the impact on receiving stream systems such as preservation of open space, vegetative buffers, filter strips, etc. (Source: Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook)
Impervious Cover - A surface composed of any material that significantly impedes or prevents natural infiltration of water into soil. Impervious surfaces include, but are not limited to, roofs, buildings, streets, parking areas and any concrete, asphalt or compacted aggregate surface. (Source: Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook)
Impacted Stream - Streams in this category possess a watershed impervious cover of 11 to 25 percent and show clear signs of degradation due to watershed urbanization. (Source: Article 28, Basic Concepts in Watershed Planning, Center for Watershed Protection)
Resource Protection Area (RPA) - That component of a Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area comprised of lands at or near the shoreline that have an intrinsic water quality value due to the ecological and biological processes they perform or are sensitive to impacts which may result in significant degradation to the quality of state waters. RPAs shall include tidal wetlands, nontidal wetlands connected by surface flow and contiguious to tidal wetlands or water bodies with perennial flow; tidal shores, and a 100-foot wide buffer adjacent to and landward of other RPA components and along both sides of any water body with perennial flow. (Source: Chapter 23 Chespeake Bay Preservation ordinance of JCC)
Stormwater Detention Basin - A stormwater management facility which temporarily impounds runoff and discharges it through a hydraulic outlet structure to a downstream conveyance system. As detention basins impound runoff temporarily, it is normally dry during nonrainfall periods. (Source: Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook)
Stormwater Retention Basin - A stormwater management facility which includes a permanent impoundment or normal pool of water for the purpose of enhancing water quality and therefore is normally wet, even during nonrainfall periods. Storm runoff inflows may be temporarily stored above this permanent impoundment for the purpose of reducing flooding or stream channel erosion. (Source: Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook)
Shoreline Vegetative Buffer - Vegetated filter strips adjacent to shorelines that help to minimize runoff, provide protection against erosion, promote infiltration and provide for shade along lakes or streams. The most effective filter strips include a variety of native grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees.
Riparian Buffer - similar to shoreline vegetated buffer. Riparian comes from the latin, riparius, meaning relating to, living, or located on the banks of a natural watercourse, lake or tidewater. Riparian buffer is an area adjacent to the riparian zone that provides protection to the resource through filtering of surface and groundwater, infiltration of surface water, and shading of the water body. Typically meant to be forested, but can be grasses or shrubs.
Tidal Wetland - Vegetated and nonvegetated areas contiguous to a tidal body of water between mean high water and mean low water.
Non-tidal wetland - Those wetlands, other than tidal wetlands, that are inudated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.
Contiguous Forest - A forest that is uninterrupted by roads, clearing or development. Typically meant to be areas in excess of 100 acres.