James River health concerns high after five sewer leaks in 10 days | Richmond Local News


On Monday, Cohen returned to Pony Pasture, where she saw two 8-by-11-inch signs warning river enthusiasts of the danger. But there are multiple entry points into the water, and the signs were easy to miss, she said. A family was coming out of the water, so they told them about the risk of bacteria and advised them to take a shower when they got home.

When she saw no sign advising visitors to stay off the James River, Richmond resident Debby Cohen made two. She mailed them to Pony Pasture and Huguenot Flatwater.

Debby cohen

“This appears to be an insufficient response to a potentially important problem for children,” Cohen said.

A retired pediatric nurse practitioner, Cohen volunteers with the Medical Reserve Corps. Volunteers could have been stationed on the river to make sure visitors were aware of the risks, she said. People with low incomes are the most likely to be affected.

“It’s not the privileged who bathe in the river,” she said.

Sharon Talarico, her partner who helped make the signs, said if you hadn’t seen the newspaper or the TV news, you wouldn’t have known the state of the river on Saturday morning.

The VDH distributed signs in each locality and demanded that they be posted, a spokesperson for the department said. The city printed 30 signs and installed them at all boat launches and kiosks along the James River Park system, said Jim Nolan, spokesperson for the mayor.


RVA Paddlesports suspended rafting activities last week on the James River due to possible water contamination from sewage. The Virginia Department of Health now says it’s safe to be in the water. Jin Kim, right, and Matthew Centofanti carried a raft to the launch site.


The majority RVA Paddlesports business occurs during a 12-week summer season, so losing a week of bookings is important, Griffin said. Every day, the company waits for the results of the water quality tests.


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