District Services

Soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) were established in the 1930s to develop comprehensive programs and plans to conserve soil resources, control and prevent soil erosion, prevent floods and conserve, develop, utilize and dispose water. Today, forty-seven districts serve as local resources for citizens in nearly all Virginia localities.

Since the mid-1980s, DCR has relied heavily on districts to help deliver many programs aimed at controlling and preventing nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, often on a hydrologic unit basis. With their volunteer boards and more than 150 full and part-time technical and administrative employees, districts provide a valuable delivery system for Virginia’s statewide nonpoint source pollution prevention programs.

Key NPS roles

Key district NPS control and prevention efforts are:

  • Implementation of the Virginia Agricultural BMP Cost-Share Program: With DCR funding and oversight, districts target more than $1 million annually to address significant agricultural water quality problems in high priority hydrologic units.
  • Local assistance with delivery of E&S control ordinances: District staffs fulfill established roles between local governments and districts as they cooperatively implement ordinances that control sediment from predominantly urban construction and development.
  • Conservation planning assistance and plan approval of farm plans in accordance with state and local requirements: Districts coordinate and deliver services that support implementation of county ordinances including agricultural provisions of local Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act ordinances and assisting with implementation of Virginia’s Agricultural Stewardship Act.
  • Districts lend technical expertise for design and installation of agricultural conservation practices implemented voluntarily by Virginia farmers.
  • Virginia Conservation Assistance Program implementation in all Chesapeake Bay SWCD. This urban cost share program provides incentive funding to private owners installing conservation landscaping practices. Learn more about the VCAP program, a VASWCD program for Chesapeake Bay SWCDs, at https://vaswcd.org/vcap
  • The education of clients through field days, public meetings and classroom programs.

View the following SWCD educational videos regarding various agricultural BMP cost share practices available for landowners with the needed technical assistance from your local SWCD. These marketing videos are ideal for sharing BMP work universally across the Commonwealth.