Resource Protection Areas (RPAs) (PDF) are comprised of lands at or near the shoreline that have an intrinsic water quality value due to the ecological and biological processes they perform. A 100-foot vegetated buffer adjacent to the shoreline is effective in reducing nonpoint source pollution in stormwater runoff before it enters our waterways. Protecting RPAs through a 100-foot buffer is one of the main components of the Chesapeake Bay regulations.
The vegetation within the RPA buffer acts as a filter to remove nonpoint source pollution from stormwater runoff. As stormwater runoff drains through the vegetation within the buffer area, the trees, shrubs and groundcover in the buffer act as a barrier which slows runoff and allows the pollutants to be filtered into the soil or absorbed by plants.
RPA buffers protect water quality by reducing the amount of pollutants that enter the rivers and streams that drain into the Bay. The RPA buffer also reduces shoreline erosion, provides habitat for wildlife and moderates water temperatures by providing shaded areas along waterways for aquatic species. The components of a RPA in Suffolk include:
tidal wetlands and tidal shores
non-tidal wetlands connected by surface flow and contiguous to tidal wetlands or tributary streams
drinking water reservoirs that serve the city and the region
a 100-foot vegetated buffer area located adjacent to and landward of the above components