James City County’s natural environment is one of its most valuable assets, and at the same time one of its most vulnerable. The County is located on a narrow, hilly, wooded peninsula between 3 major rivers: the James to the south, the York to the northeast and the Chickahominy to the west. The County possesses broad tidal and tributary floodplains adjacent to most of the streams and rivers.
The floodplain is the level land directly adjacent to rivers and streams; as the interface between land and water bodies it performs many important functions. Floodplain areas help reduce the impacts of flooding by slowing and temporarily storing floodwaters during large storm events. In addition, the majority of floodplains in the County are comprised of an intact mix of wetland and non-wetland habitats that are home to plants and other living organisms that serve as filters, capturing sediment and harmful chemicals found in runoff.
This process improves the water quality before flowing to our streams and rivers. These corridors are also heavily used by migratory wildlife and are valued areas for recreation. Areas closest to water bodies also became preferred locations for our original settlers making preservation even more important. The rich and diverse habitats found in our floodplain perform vital functions and help define our community in a way that far outweighs their relative size.
In addition to flooding associated with the larger water bodies and floodplains in the County, there are also localized areas that flood during storm events caused by inadequate drainage conveyance systems.