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Virginia’s Water Supply – Sustainable Water Use, Lesson 2 for Independent Schools

Virginia’s estimated 52,232 miles of streams and rivers are part of nine major watersheds. Annual state-wide rainfall averages almost 43 inches. The total combined flow of all freshwater streams in the state is estimated at about 25 billion gallons per day. The 248 publicly owned lakes in the Commonwealth have a combined surface area of 130,344 acres. Additionally, many hundreds of other small privately owned lakes and ponds are distributed throughout the state. Other significant water features of Virginia include approximately 236,900 acres of tidal and coastal wetlands, 808,000 acres of freshwater wetlands, 120 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, and more than 2,300 square miles of estuaries.

Most all locations across the Commonwealth have received large amounts of rainfall. This can be attributed primarily to frontal passages and a persistent upper-air low associated with the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee in September and Hurricane Irene in August. Stream gages in areas west of I-95 are recording flows below normal to well below normal ranges. Stream gages in the Coastal Plain are recording rises to reflect the increased runoff from the hurricane and are in the normal to above normal range of flows

Groundwater levels continue to generally align with surface-water levels with most wells recording levels in the normal to above normal range in the Coastal Plain. Water Levels west of Interstate 95 have continued to decline and remain well below normal

Virginia’s public health, environment, and economic growth depend on the availability of quality water resources. To assure water resources are available for future generations and the continued growth of Virginia, effective water resource management must continue to be premised on a process that improves the quality and quantity of water available to the Commonwealth.

For more, visit the Virginia DEQ website from which this summary was adapted.