A watershed is the surface area of the state from which all water appears to run to or "drain to" a commons body of water like a river. It is all of the land and water related to a stream, river, lake, bay or ocean. There are 14 major watersheds of Virginia. The New River is the name of one such river and its watershed. There are 497 subwatersheds, the tributaries of the large rivers. Almost everything people do on the land affects the quantity and quality of the water within a watershed.

Parts of the New River are located in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

In West Virginia, all but 2 miles of the New River is in Federal control. Managing agencies include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Bluestone Dam Impoundment) and the National Park Service (New River Gorge National River), with cooperation of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (Bluestone Wild1ife Management Area). During 2003-04, a 20-mile section of the free-flowing New River in the Bluestone Lake impoundment easement (VA-WV) is under study for designation as a National Scenic River.

The following notes were developed for the Roundtable by Llyn Sharp (1/13/04)

In Virginia, The New River...

  • flows for 157 miles in Virginia, and 255 miles overall. It begins in North Carolina, then runs through Virginia and into West Virginia, where it meets the Gauley River to form the Kanawha River. From there it flows into the Ohio River, Mississippi River, and finally into the Gulf of Mexico.
  • cuts across the Appalachians in Virginia, through the Blue Ridge, Ridge and Valley, and Plateau geologic provinces. Only a few U.S. mainstem rivers flow North: In Virginia, the New, the Shenandoah and the Big Sandy all flow North.
  • watershed comprises 3,068 square miles in Virginia, or about 7.3% of the area of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It includes all or part of 11 counties and cities. The population of the New River watershed is x, or x% of the state population of Virginia.
  • has 5 major dams: Field Dam at Mouth of Wilson; Fries; Buck; Byllesby; and Claytor.
  • is generally recognized as the oldest river in Virginia. It reflects the drainage pattern of the ancient Teays River system. The Teays was a large river basin that once flowed North from the Appalachian highlands and was diverted by ice dams in the last Ice Age.

The average flow of the New River upstream of Claytor Lake at Allisonia in September is 1965 cfs (cubic feet per second), about 1270 megagallons/day. In March, during the high water season, average flow is 4972 cfs, or 3213 mgd. Minimum flow of record since 1929 was 750 cfs, maximum was 11,700 cfs in 1940. Consumptive uses of the New in 1990 removed 11 mgal/day. These withdrawals have risen during the past 14 years, with some major consumptive uses proposed in the next few years. These reductions of "instream flows" have significant impacts on conditions and life of the river and near-river ecosystems. For comparison, average flow of the James River at Scottsville in September is 2607 cfs. and in March is 9541 cfs.

There are many tributaries to the New River in Virginia (estimated to be over XX). These creeks and rivers comprise another XXX riparian miles.

The New River flows through a well-recognized karst area of limestone rock, with caves and springs, where groundwater is vulnerable to surface water impairments. About 1/3 of the homes and communities in the watershed rely on groundwater as their drinking water supply.

The Roundtable builds on the work and momentum of the American Heritage River designation effort for the New River, as well as the New River Community Partners initiative to develop a New River Watershed Work Plan, which listed community-based projects for the entire multi-state Watershed. The Roundtable's strategic planning effort is consistent with Virginia's goal of developing a comprehensive watershed-based approach to non-point source pollution management and control, as stated in the Virginia Non-point Source Pollution Management Program document (1999). The Roundtable also coordinates with similar efforts in North Carolina and West Virginia to create a multi-state, watershed-wide plan.

Participants in the Roundtable include: citizens, farmers, local government officials, soil and water conservation district officials, and representatives of business and industry, community and non-profit organizations and state and federal resource management agencies. Since the initial kick-off meeting in August of 2001, the Roundtable Steering Committee has met regularly to organize and plan The Roundtable's efforts.

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New River Watershed Roundtable, Inc.
P.O. Box 1506
Dublin, VA 24084

Copyright ?2006 Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech