The Watershed

A Closer Look

Chesapeake Bay watershed

The Chesapeake Bay watershed covers about 64,000 square miles and includes parts of six states — New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia — and the District of Columbia. There are about 150 major rivers and streams in the watershed that eventually flow to the Chesapeake Bay. (Learn more about the Chesapeake Bay watershed)

Hopefully those stats help you see why our actions on the land have such a significant influence on the health of the Bay. Some of us are so into helping the Bay that we are changing what we do at home. The funny thing is this: Sometimes these environmental actions make sense in other ways -- like keeping more money in your wallet.

Want to do something for the watershed?

  • Get rid of junk mail. Turns out you can get folks to stop sending so much junk mail. That helps keep garbage out of the Bay and other stuff out of the air.
  • Keep money from going down the drain. Using less water means lower water bills and less water treated in a sewage treatment plant or septic system - both major sources of pollution from the watershed to the Bay. Some ideas: Get leaky toilets and faucets fixed. Install water-saving devices such as low-flow showerheads and toilet dams. Run the washing machine and the dishwasher only when they’re full.
  • Shock the electric company. You can cut your utility bill by using energy-efficient appliances, switching to compact fluorescent bulbs and using ceiling fans instead of air conditioning. This reduces the amount of power that power plants need to produce, so there is less air pollution and acid rain.
  • Look for good chemistry. You can switch to nontoxic, water-based cleaners and other household products to keep that stuff out of the bay. Other ideas: Use low-phosphate or no-phosphate detergents. And dispose of household chemicals properly; read the product label and/or contact your local recycling or household hazardous waste disposal programs.
  • Reuse stuff. You can reuse everything from gift bags and gift boxes (not to mention re-gifting the gifts themselves) to jam jars (as glasses). Other ideas: Use rechargeable batteries instead of the kind that conk out seconds after you install them. Use yard waste and non-meat kitchen scraps as compost.
  • Recycle. It's not just putting bottles in that bucket. You can buy recycled or recyclable products. Just look to see the amount of post-consumer recycled material content (higher is better).
  • Reduce waste at the source. You can switch from disposable products (paper napkins, paper cups) to reusable ones (cloth napkins, coffee mugs). Oh, and don't forget about having your name taken off junk mail lists.

Still want more ways to get involved protecting the Chesapeake Bay from your corner of the watershed? Check out the Chesapeake Bay Program's website for some more "how you can help" lists.