JRA's Riverkeepers monitor the length of the James River and its more than 15,000 miles of tributaries. You’ll find them on the water in a jon boat, kayak, canoe or doing river reconnaissance on foot and by vehicle 2 to 3 days each week.
JRA and its James Riverkeepers are recruiting the James River’s first line of citizen defense, the RiverRats. This program engages volunteers to patrol the James and its tributaries and to take action to protect and restore the entire watershed. Whether walking a neighborhood stream, kayaking a local river, or boating the wide reaches of the lower James, JRA RiverRats will document potential pollution sources and their effects while also reporting natural patterns in river hydrology and wildlife sightings. A scientific background is not required. Training and equipment will be provided.
RiverRats will be proactive in protecting their river by committing to action projects in their communities. By helping JRA keep watch over our waterways and inspiring their neighbors to choose clean water, RiverRats will play a vital role in protecting and restoring America’s Founding River.
Citizen Water Quality Monitor
Many portions of the James River and tributaries are currently impaired due to excessive harmful bacteria. And for those who swim or recreate in the River, bacteria is an invisible pollutant that can pose serious health threats. One of the most common questions JRA receives from the public is whether it is safe to swim in certain parts of the James River.
JRA launched a water quality monitoring initiative in 2013 across the James River watershed. JRA uses volunteers as “citizen scientists”, collecting water samples and recording data to track the environmental health of the River. Sampling occurs weekly from May to September, and data is made available to the public on JRA's James River Watch website (thejamesriver.org/jrw).
The James River Association strives to provide a voice for the River on important policy issues. Through advocacy at the citizen, local, state and federal levels, JRA works to ensure the health of the James River. The Lower James Riverkeeper and the Upper James Riverkeeper are also committed to ensuring that environmental regulations and laws under the Clean Water Act are followed, enforced and strengthened so that local waters are swimmable, fishable and accessible, and are clean and safe source of drinking water.
JRA’s Riverkeepers are frequently asked to address civic and service organizations. Through this outreach, the Riverkeepers help people see water resources in a new light and offer them a new prospective on protecting the James River. JRA and the Riverkeepers call upon citizens to help ensure that local and state lawmakers who make decisions on their behalf every day know their interests and natural resources are represented and protected. Sign Up to Be Part of JRAction Network
Urban stormwater represents the fastest growing source of pollution to the James River and if not controlled threatens to undermine the progress that has been made towards restoring the health of the river. JRA believes that by adopting Low Impact Development (LID) large strides can be made in addressing stormwater issues. LID is an environmental-friendly development process that involves altering site planning, design and development processes so that the impact of stormwater on the surrounding land is reduced. To learn more about JRA’s LID work, check out our report on Promoting Low Impact Development in Virginia. JRA has also developed a stormwater model ordinance and conducted a study that provides local governments with cost-effective solutions for meeting stormwater pollution obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup. View the Full Report and the JRA Executive Summary.
JRA’s main policy priority is to ensure that Virginia maintains its commitment to the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup effort and continues on the path towards restoring the James. To do so, adequate funding from the Virginia General Assembly and support from state agencies is imperative. Accordingly, JRA works closely with both of these audiences to ensure that the James River is a priority. In order to support continued progress in the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup, JRA released a study that will assist in the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup at the local level, by linking local water quality goals to those of the Bay. To learn more, click here.
Fish Kill Task Force
Each spring since 2007, smallmouth bass, sunfish and other fish in the Cowpasture, Jackson, Maury and James Rivers, and several tributaries, have been affected with lesions, fungal infections and fin rot. A specific bacterium is now being studied as the potential cause of the deaths. Working with the state’s Fish Kill Task Force and the Department of Environmental Quality, the Upper James Riverkeeper has been conducting field work to determine locations, timing, species and the geographic extent of the problem. He has also enlisted the help of local residents in reporting the sighting of sick or dead fish.
A “Tire-less” James!
JRA with other partners organize volunteers to remove tires -- and only tires -- from the James River during the annual Tire-less James event. Bridgestone Americas LLC is supporting JRA's efforts by providing free hauling and recycling of all tires collected during the cleanup through its Tires4Ward program. This is a self-directed cleanup.