October 1, 2021
Visit Chesapeake to learn about Virginia Beach’s smallest watershed



By Mary Reid Barrow

 Join LRNow next Saturday  for a Discover Virginia Beach walk to  get a feeling for the  Northwest River Watershed,  the city’s smallest watershed where just a tiny bit  of our water flows.

The walk will be from 9:30 to noon in Northwest River Park, 1733 Indian Creek Road in Chesapeake. Find out more at

Wait, you might say!   A Virginia Beach walk in  Chesapeake?

Yes!   You have to go to Chesapeake to get to know this beautiful little river that gives our watershed its name.   On the walk you will see that the Northwest River habitat is a lot  like that of the North Landing River in Virginia Beach.

The Northwest is  bordered for the most part by  trees, wetlands or farmland. Though  the North Landing River’s headwaters are in busy Kempsville, it, too, becomes a bucolic river flowing by forest, wetlands and farm land as it flows south through the city.

Both rivers  have some of the same special habitats where a  number of Virginia’s rare and unusual plants and animals dwell.   And because of that, there are areas along both rivers that are protected by the State, the North Landing River Natural Area and the Northwest River Natural Area

For example, Sawgrass with its  mean saw-toothed stems grows  further south  for the most part, but it also grows along both rivers.

And the shy canebrake rattlesnake, akin to the timber rattlesnake in the western part of the state, lives primarily in  this little corner of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.  The snake is so rare, it is on the state’s endangered species list.

Both rivers  flow into Currituck Sound.   And both lend their names to Virginia Beach watersheds.

But the similarities end in the size of the watersheds.      The North Landing River watershed stretches north to south primarily  along Virginia Beach’s western border and is one of our largest watersheds encompassing about 32 percent of our city.

On the other hand,  only the very most southwestern corner of Virginia Beach, about one percent of our city,  makes up the Northwest River Watershed.  And then, the watershed  drains across the Chesapeake -Virginia Beach  line and  westward to the river. You can’t see the river in this watershed map, yet this tiny little red shape in the bottom left is the Northwest  River Watershed right on the Virginia Beach border..

And that’s why we have to go to Chesapeake to see the river for which our watershed was named.

As LRNow Director Karen Forget said, “Watersheds know no boundaries.”


Do you have a favorite tree or plant with a story to tell?  What relationships have you observed  between plants and critters?  Who eats whom?  Who has babies where?   Send an email to


PEARL HOMES are places where people care about our environment and want to do what they can to help protect our resources.

Learn more»

Lynnhaven River NOW recognizes schools providing outstanding environmental education as a Pearl School.

Learn More»

PEARL BUSINESSES are essential to truly move towards a more sustainable Virginia Beach and cleaner waters.

Learn More »

We all want to do our part to restore the health of all of our sacred waterways and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

Learn More»

SUSTAINABLE YARDS PROGRAM: Let us help you “green” your Lynnhaven watershed home. This unique program provides specific stormwater management practices to your yard at a significantly reduced cost to you.

Learn More»