Happy National Water Quality Month!  The James River Association has worked to improve the health of the James River since 1976, when the James was considered one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Since then, the river’s health has increased remarkably, making the James River arguably one of the most improved rivers in the nation, and has been consistently rated as the healthiest major tributary to the Chesapeake Bay by the University of Maryland.

This month we are celebrating all of the work that has been done to improve the health of the James, and for National Water Quality month, we asked a few volunteers to share their motivation to volunteer and their connection to the James.

Here is Emilee Austin,  long-time James River Watch and RiverRat volunteer in Henrico. 

What inspired you to volunteer to monitor water quality?

I used to live on a boat at a Marina on the James River just outside of Richmond and wanted to advocate for myself, my neighbors, and the rest of the river loving communities on our beautiful river.

What is your favorite thing about the river?

I love that there is always something new to learn. I also love how it brings people together and facilitates genuine connection in a fast-moving world.

Are you involved with JRA in any other ways?

I volunteer for invasive species removal when I can as well as a member of the JRA River Rats Program in addition to water quality testing.

Picture of Emilee from 2020 volunteering at Osborne Landing.

Our thanks go out to our partners, donors, members and volunteers across Virginia who have been working alongside us in our four decades of work.