We are honored by the dozens of volunteers that work with us every month. Whether spending an afternoon planting trees with our James River Buffer Program, taking weekly water samples as a Water Quality Monitor volunteer, or patrolling a section of river a few times a year as a James RiverRat – we value your time and commitment to your river!

For National Water Quality month, we asked a few volunteers to share their motivation to volunteer and their connection to the James. Here is a statement from Stacy, one of our Water Quality Monitor volunteers.

As a coordinator for a volunteer water quality monitoring program, I wanted to volunteer with JRA’s RiverWatch program to learn about testing for a higher level of bacteria data and determine if there are any bacteria pollution concerns occurring in Henrico and Richmond sites. By finding out if a site has high levels of bacteria, we may be able to target a specific area and educate homeowners on best management practices or track illicit discharges. I think monitoring organizations can work together and learn from each other to help improve water quality across watersheds.

Monitoring the water quality is important to me because I grew up and played around Tuckahoe Creek and enjoy kayaking, fishing and swimming in the James River. Even though Tuckahoe Creek is a small tributary, it still impacts the James River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay if there is pollution occurring along the creek. By educating myself on water quality concerns, I hope to communicate to others how small changes at home can make a positive impact on their watershed.

One of my favorite stories while working with volunteers is that a team would monitor monthly on a stream that flows through Henrico into Richmond and they noted that the bacteria levels were unusually high and had a strange odor one season. Thanks to the team for monitoring and for their thorough observations, we were able to work with Henrico County Departments to track down and stop a pollution source. It felt like we were making a big difference because the problem would have continued if our volunteers weren’t out there monthly, tracking the stream’s health.

- Stacey H.

JRA Volunteer