Get the Facts

The story of clean water. Vibrant, clean rivers and streams

Choose Clean Water launched in the spring of 2009 to bring together a diverse set of advocacy groups from around the region to tell powerful stories about clean water: why it is so essential to our lives and remind decision makers that it is indeed an active choice.

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This region contains more than 100,000 rivers and streams.

Farmland makes up less than 30% of the region but is responsible for 43% of the nitrogen pollution, 45% of the phosphorus pollution and 60% of the sediment pollution to the Bay.

Rain gardens, porous pavement and green roofs are low-impact development techniques that will help reduce pollution from developed areas.

Working with farmers to implement conservation practices is the most cost effective way to clean our water.


The Bay and its tidal tributaries have more miles of shoreline than the entire U.S. west coast. The land that surrounds local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay acts as a natural sponge.

  • The Bay is about 200 miles long, stretching from Havre de Grace, Maryland to Virginia Beach, Virginia.
  • The land that flows to the Chesapeake Bay encompasses parts of six states and the District of Columbia. This land area starts in Cooperstown, New York and goes as far west as Sweet Springs, West Virginia. The Bay opens to the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Charles on the Lower Eastern Shore and Cape Henry in Virginia Beach.
  • Rivers and streams that eventually flow into the Bay are the source of drinking water for 75% of the region’s 17 million residents

As communities in the region grew, we prevented water from soaking into the ground and polluted our rivers and streams.

  • Polluted stormwater runoff is the only significant source of nutrient and sediment pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that is growing.
  • There are 483 "significant" wastewater treatment facilities in the Chesapeake Bay region, which includes the world's largest advanced wastewater treatment plant in the District of Columbia – the Blue Plains facility.
  • Human contact with many of our waters was a health hazard so citizens insisted and Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 to start us on the path to clean water.

The Clean Water Act requires states to put their "dirty waters" on a list, and including the Chesapeake Bay on this "dirty waters list" has led to the comprehensive cleanup effort that we are involved in today.

  • Wastewater treatment facilities throughout the watershed are being upgraded to reduce the amount of discharged pollution.
  • State and Federal programs are supporting local government efforts to clean their local water.