Shenandoah Watershed Compact

Photo by Tusik Only

Shenandoah Watershed Compact: An Introduction

compassMore than 300,000 of us live in the Shenandoah watershed. Our interests in the river are at times both complementary and competing. As economies in the Shenandoah Valley change, so do the challenges and pressures facing water resources. Both urban and rural areas generate pollutant loads that compromise local waters and those downstream, such as the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.

In spring 2019, nearly 90 community stakeholders participated in a series of workshops and forums to explore the future of the Shenandoah River by responding to a central question:

How can our communities ensure clean and plentiful drinking water while maintaining a thriving economy that sustains the high quality of life and values of our rural Valley home?

Participants in the forums brought a depth of knowledge and passion for the river, land, wildlife, and culture of the Valley. Their enthusiasm, expertise, and commitment convinced us that now is the time for a compact on meaningful collaboration toward a healthy Shenandoah River and a vibrant and sustainable regional economy.

The Shenandoah Watershed Compact is a guidebook for decision-makers, stakeholders, and everyone who seeks to enhance appreciation for the Shenandoah River. The river is an irreplaceable resource, our lifeline to health and prosperity.

—Mark Frondorf, Shenandoah Riverkeeper

Download the Shenandoah Watershed Compact as a pdf file.

Who Can Help Realize the Vision for the Shenandoah River Watershed?

  • We the People of the Shenandoah River watershed understand our relationship and responsibilities as stewards of the natural resources in our care. Taking the initiative to educate ourselves and our communities, we actively protect our commonly held resource from damage inflicted by social, economic, and natural causes.
  • We the Farmers make up a thriving agricultural community that provides leadership in achieving water quality restoration. As stewards of the Shenandoah River watershed, we model best management practices that define our region as a conservation zone recognized and respected for an ethos grounded in education, advocacy, and action. Working together, all citizens and businesses demonstrate by word and deed their understanding and appreciation of the river as a shared resource whose health and resilience requires an equally shared responsibility.
  • We the Landowners whose property bounds the river strive to create and support clean drinking water and a healthy ecosystem by preserving and creating riparian buffers that prevent erosion while filtering debris and pollutants. As a community, we are engaged and aware of our vital role in maintaining a healthy physical environment for all river inhabitants, including flora and fauna. Shenandoah Valley’s future depends on clean water, that prosperity and a healthy watershed go hand in hand, and that the fate of the watershed rests with the people who live and work within it. Everyone must be aware of their own role and personal responsibilities and have a say in how those responsibilities are carried out.
  • We the Legislators commit to public education, incentives, legislation, and enforcement that ensure stewardship for a healthy watershed in perpetuity, protecting our natural resources for future generations. We support decisions that aid residents in understanding their interrelationship with and impact on the watershed through citizen forums, access to government, and opportunities for direct river use and education.


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