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Environmental Organization Aims to Keep Area Rivers Clean - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Environmental Organization Aims to Keep Area Rivers Clean

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The Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District is trying to clean up streams and rivers in four central Virginia counties. It's offering to pay to protect streams on people's property.

The Chesapeake Bay is being choked with sediment, and efforts to clean it up are now starting in some of its smallest watersheds that eventually trickle into larger rivers.

The TJSWCD wants to make it easy - and potentially profitable - for farmers.

Mark Campbell has spent years farming cattle in Nelson County. He began working with the TJSWCD  in 2008 to protect a small stream on his property.

"Everyone wants clean water. Clean water is very important to the agriculture community, and this is one way we can do our share, our part, to continue to improve water quality," said Campbell.

The district first set up a fence 35 feet from the river. Then trees and grasses were planted to curb runoff.

"The grass itself will slow down the flow of water across the ground, it will help the water sink into the soil, which is a natural filter, and then the plants will use the nutrients that are being carried in that runoff water," said Campbell.

Campbell says his farm has benefited from the switch. Cows are a large source of pollutants in waterways, and the district pays for alternative sources of fresh water for them. Campbell now has a central location for his cattle to drink from.

But TJSWCD representatives say it's not just an issue for farmers. That's why they now offer a range of services for anyone in the Rockfish River watershed. They can plant trees, dig wells, and even repair faulty septic systems.

"Every stream has the potential for being either a filter to clean the water or a source of pollution through the nutrients coming down, so every little bit that we can do does make a difference," said Campbell.

As of 2014, the district has around $123,000 in grant money for agricultural cost-share projects.

If you live in the Rockfish watershed and would like to make your property more eco-friendly, click here.

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