In the Rappahannock River, the U.S. Geological Survey has recorded more suspended solids per unit area than in any other tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.
With excess sedimentation comes a mass of environmental impacts that disrupt the natural balance of an ecosystem, starting at the base with submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). SAV create vital nursery habitat for fish and blue crab populations, and form the foundation for some of the most unique aquatic ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
When water is saturated with a heavy sediment load, light is effectively blocked from reaching underwater plants. SAV may be completely extirpated from sites where water is opaque and photosynthesis is not possible. In effect, organisms that rely on vanishing SAV habitat are left in a vulnerable position.