Strict policiesneeded to improve river’s health
Many of my summer days and weekends are spent on the James River, whether it is down by Pony Pasture, on Belle Isle or even in the worn and ragged marinas of the lower James. I remember listening with disgusted disbelief as sunburned old-timers talked about how polluted the river used to be.
However, I never once have thought of the James River as clean.
The river vastly has improved from a time when the toxic pesticide Kepone and raw sewage directly were being dumped into its waters. In recent years, the water quality has improved and wildlife has begun to return to the river, but I still cannot help but feel that our forward progress has halted.
Just this past February, it was reported that Richmond still has 25 spots where untreated fecal matter flows into the river during storms. Between 2014 and 2018, more than 11 billion gallons of untreated waste went into the James River as recorded by sewer system records from the city of Richmond. Even I feel gritty and gummy after a dip into the river, and the river has a distinct smell that no other body of water ever has matched.
The James River is an important asset for our economy and is a principal element in the allure of Richmond. The river cannot be allowed to deteriorate into the condition it once was in. In fact, we should be pressing the advantage we have now that we are beginning to get ahead of the issue. By putting more strict policies regarding the dumping of waste and pollution, we can make the James River a place that all will want to enjoy without worrying for their well-being.