About the Clean Waters Initiative

Sediment - Dirty Water Degrades Water Quality

Sediment consists of loose particles of sand, silt, and clay on the bottom of rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. Suspended sediment pushed into the water by erosion is one of the biggest impairments to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.

Erosion increases as vegetation is cleared for agricultural uses and development. Sediment can cloud local streams, rivers, and the Bay blocking the sunlight needed for underwater grasses to grow. Sediment settles to the bottom of the water body, covering bottom habitats and reducing overall water quality for fish and other aquatic species.

What You Can Do

You can help reduce sediment pollution by combating erosion on your property. Tips includes:

  • Putting mulch down on bare ground
  • Planting native trees and shrubs on your property


  1. Local Waters Go Beyond Borders
  2. Support Healthy Communities
  3. Dirty Water Degrades Quality

Loudoun County is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (CBW). There are 17 smaller watersheds in Loudoun County (view map), each draining to a local river or stream that is part of the CBW.

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed includes portions of six different states - Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia - and the District of Columbia. The watershed spans more than 64,000 square miles, and is home to almost 18 million people. The Susquehanna, Potomac, York, James, and Rappahannock rivers are the five largest in the CBW. In total, more than 100,000 streams, creeks, and rivers are in the CBW.