The Watersheds of Amherst County

Robert E. Lee Soil & Water

These next few pages tell the story of Amherst County and its watersheds. The residents of Amherst County live in a beautiful landscape. There are lovely mountains, rivers, forests, and farmlands. Natural features form most of the county's borders. The Blue Ridge Mountains are in the northwest. The James River flows along the southwestern and southeastern boundaries. The Piney and Tye Rivers form much of the northeastern border. All of the watersheds of Amherst County flow into the James River and the Chesapeake Bay. Thus, everyone in the county has a watershed connection with people all the way down the James to the Bay. We all live in a watershed. The watershed where you live is your special natural inheritance.

Protected Watersheds

There are four watersheds in Amherst County that provide drinking water and receive special attention through the county's Watershed Protection Program. They are Harris Creek and Graham Creek, which are water sources for the Amherst County Service Authority, plus the Buffalo River and Mill Creek, which are water sources for the Town of Amherst and Sweet Briar College. Water taken from these sources goes to treatment plants and then to people's homes and businesses. The Service Authority provides water to more than 15,000 people, while the town system serves over 3000 people.

The Amherst County Watershed Protection Ordinance provides special protection for the entire Graham Creek and Mill Creek watersheds. The protected parts on the Harris Creek and Buffalo River watersheds lie above the water intake points. The purpose of the Watershed Protection Ordinance is to prevent and minimize pollution of the sources of drinking water. It is almost always better, and cheaper, to prevent water pollution than it is to have to treat polluted water to make it safe to drink.

 

Harris Creek, Graham Creek, Mill Creek, and the Buffalo River are the most important watershed connections for people in Amherst County. Remember that anything that flows into those four watersheds might find its way into people's drinking water.

 Let's look at this innovative program in more detail. The Amherst Watershed Coordinator for the Robert E. Lee Soil and Water Conservation District works with the Amherst County Service Authority to conduct land use surveys of the drinking water watersheds. If activities are identified that might pollute the water landowners may be contacted. Farmers installing agricultural conservation practices that protect drinking supplies at the source may be eligible for a local incentive grant (provided by the Amherst County Service Authority) that pays up to 25% of the total project cost along with cost-share funding through other State and Federal agricultural cost-share programs. 

Amherst Tree Buffer Program: Landowners that sign up will receive free native hardwoods trees and tree shelters that must be planted along local waterways. This program is funded through forestry grants and strives to protect water at the source. Sign up ends Dec 15th of each year and planting begins in March. Volunteers will be available to help plant.  

Please contact Anne Marie Roberts, Amherst Watershed Coordinator, with the Robert E. Lee Soil & Water Conservation District at: (434) 851-7043 or am.roberts@releeconservation.com 

Visit the Robert E Lee SWCD website: www.releeconservation.com

 
 
 
 

 

Amherst County Service Authority is pleased to offer the twenty-one (21) page booklet "Living In Your Watershed". It provides general information about the importance of watershed protection, and specifics about Amherst County's watershed protection programs. Copies are available by contacting ACSA's Director of Public Utilities, at (434)845-1605.
 
Copyright © 2007 Daniel C. Bowman, Bowman Environmetal Services, LLC.; Charlottesville, Va.; BowEnvSer@comcast.net
Illustrations by Stan Webb; Lynchburg, Va.; stanwebb@inmind.net
Design by Nancy B. Marion; The Design Group; Lynchburg, Va.; www.designgroup.com
 

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