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 Gary Schmitt, James River Watch volunteer in Williamsburg. 

What inspired you to volunteer to monitor water quality?

I appreciate clean water having operated a SCUBA services business for many years. I would call the county often to be sure the beaches were open. A friend told me about the program with JRA and I was pleased to receive the training and become a volunteer.

What is your favorite thing about the river?

I walk to the beach routinely for sunsets. We swim often and have several small boats including a rowing shell and cat ketch sailboat we built.

Are you involved with JRA in any other ways?

A few of us have helped with debris removal on Chapel Island and the building of a kayak canoe rack. There are many opportunities with the JRA on the water that I hope to have time for in the future.

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.