RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — River season is here! But is it always safe to go into the water? The James River Watch website may have you covered.

Every summer since 2013, the James River Association has prepared for river season by recruiting volunteers from different localities all along the river. These volunteers then work to test the river’s water quality and share the results on a weekly basis.

According to JRA, approximately 90 volunteers have signed up this year to monitor the water quality from various locations along the river.

James River Watch volunteers take water samples every Thursday. These samples are then used to track water temperature, air temperature, turbidity, conductivity and bacteria. High levels of certain bacteria can indicate the presence of pathogens that are harmful to humans.

The findings are updated to the program’s online platform every Friday, along with findings from other federal programs.

“Paddling, fishing, and swimming are common summer pastimes for the folks in the James River Watershed, but it’s important to be informed about river conditions to make sure you are being safe while out on the river,” said Erin Reilly, JRA’s Senior Staff Scientist. “James River Watch conveniently pulls that information together in one place. I personally use it all the time to plan my time at the river.”

During the 2021 river season, James River Watch recorded an average pass rate of 83%, with 9 sites passing 100% of the time. Two sites, College Landing Park and Powhatan Creek, raised concern for JRA staff in 2021 due to high rates of failure.

(Courtesy of the James River Association)

This year, for the first time, the James River Watch will be offering a weekly email newsletter for anyone who wants to be notified as soon as results are posted. To sign up and learn more, visit the website here.