Report shows James River is safe most of the time


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The James River Association released a new report on bacteria levels in the James River. 

It’s called “Swimming Safety in the James – Know Before You Go: Bacteria Monitoring Results 2013-2017.” This report puts together five years of water quality monitoring data. 

Each weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, trained volunteers collect water samples at designated locations where the public is known to frequent for paddling, fishing, and swimming. Weekly water samples test temperature, water cloudiness or turbidity, and E. coli bacteria. In high concentrations, E. coli can be harmful to human health and indicate greater likelihood of other harmful bacteria in the water.

The date shows on average the river is generally safe for recreation, with 83% of all samples taken over the past five years meeting the state’s safety standard. The other 17% of samples that showed high levels of bacteria were primarily found after significant rain events, which wash bacteria pollution into the river from surrounding land or from sewage systems.

“This data demonstrates that our local waterways are safe for recreation most of the time, but extra caution is necessary after rainstorms,” said Jamie Brunkow, James Riverkeeper for the James River Association. “It is important for river goers to know local conditions before spending time on the river. Checking James River Watch is an easy way to ensure a safe, fun time on the water.”

“Human health continues to be at risk due to pollution entering the James River. To ensure that the James is safe for everyone to enjoy, we need to strengthen and adequately fund state and local programs to address polluted runoff from urban stormwater and agriculture” said Brunkow.

To read the full report, click here

To check current safety conditions on the James River, visit the James River Watch website

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