River Advocacy

The James River Association strives to provide a voice for the River on important policy issues. Through advocacy at the citizen, local, state and federal levels, the James River Association works to ensure the health of the James River.

Learn more about our advocacy efforts below.


Act Now

We’re in the home stretch of the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup effort, and Virginia has released its plan for how we’ll meet our Bay restoration goals by 2025. The Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan, (WIP)is filled with strategies to reduce pollution and restore clean water to the Bay and its tributaries, like the James River.

Over the past 10 years, the overall health of the James River has improved 10 points to a B-, a sign that Virginia’s restoration efforts are working. The more we invest in water quality, the more benefits our river can offer communities through clean drinking water, recreation, and quality of life.

Help us keep the comeback coming. Tell Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources that you want a WIP that delivers for clean water, clean rivers, and a clean Bay.

Make Your Voice Heard!

The actions of our government – at the local, state and federal levels – have an enormous impact on you and your family. Writing an email or a letter and making a follow-up phone call only takes a few minutes of your time, but it ensures that the people who make decisions on your behalf every day know how you want to be represented.

Citizen advocacy is built on personal relationships. You can have an impact. By signing up to be a part of our Action Network, you will receive email updates on river-related news in your area and alerts when action is necessary in your region on a river-related issue.

Help strengthen the voice for the river by joining our Action Network today!

WIP 105: The Final Bay Cleanup Plan is Out!

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Press Statement:Virginia’s Phase III Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan

PRESS STATEMENTFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:August 23rd, 2019 CONTACT:Jamie BrunkowRiverkeeper and Senior Advocacy Manager(757)...

Press Statement: Governor’s Report Identifies Critical Needs to Protect the James River

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  August 19th, 2019 CONTACT:Jamie BrunkowRiverkeeper and Senior Advocacy Manager(757)...

Advocacy at each level

Local Advocacy

Many decisions that impact the James River are made at the local level. From stream buffer protections to political support for river restoration to emphasizing environmental education – it all starts at home. The James River Association works at the local level to ensure that the river is a priority in decision makers minds.

State Advocacy

At the state level, we ensure that public policies are in place to achieve a fully healthy James River. Our focus is two pronged: addressing long-term pollution concerns through river restoration plans and ensuring proper protections are in place to prevent future degradation. To accomplish these objectives, we work closely with state agencies as well as the Virginia General Assembly. 

Federal Advocacy

As a part of its federal government outreach, the James River Association participates in the Choose Clean Water Coalition. The Choose Clean Water Coalition brings together more than 200 organizations from throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed to help everyone in the region choose clean water. The James River Association focuses on supporting federal funding for clean water programs, working with the EPA on the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup, as well as agricultural and urban stormwater issues.

Advocacy Projects

The James River Association is working with local governments to increase the adoption of Low Impact Development (LID) requirements throughout the watershed. These LID requirements are intended to complement the state’s stormwater regulations.

Project Overview

In 2011, the James River Association, Potomac Conservancy and Friends of the Rappahannock conducted an analysis of local development codes and ordinances in Virginia’s nontidal Chesapeake Bay watershed for their incorporation of low impact development practices. The Project Team rated the localities on 76 LID principles, grouped into the following categories:

  • Minimizing Land Disturbance
  • Preserving Vegetation
  • Minimizing Impervious Cover
  • Protecting General Water Quality
  • Nontidal Locality Supplement

General Results

Each locality did well in at least one area and each had room for improvement. All of the 76 LID principles were met by at least one of localities. The results for the localities are presented in the table on page 2 of the Executive Summary. Scores ranged from 3% to 72%, with the average watershed score at 27%.


Project Overview

The James River Association and the Center for Watershed Protection conducted a study that provides local governments in the James River watershed with cost-effective solutions for meeting their stormwater pollution obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup.

Urban stormwater represents the fastest growing source of pollution to the James River and if not controlled threatens to undermine the progress that has been made towards restoring the health of the river. This study demonstrates that manageable approaches are available to localities in meeting their responsibilities for protecting the James River and the rest of Virginia’s waters. By gathering and reviewing available cost and pollutant removal data for a variety of river friendly practices, from structural parking lot retrofits to installing rain gardens, the study was able to determine which actions provide the greatest pollution reductions for the lowest investment. This data was then applied in the City of Richmond to develop a number of scenarios for addressing their required stormwater pollution reductions.

General Results

Key findings from the study revealed that the average annual costs per pound of pollution removed can range from 44 cents to over $70,000. For the City of Richmond, the costs of meeting their stormwater requirements could be reduced by 70% from initial estimates by adapting a suite of the most cost effective practices applied to local conditions. Costs could be reduced by up to 80% if the City had additional flexibility to utilize some of the most cost effective practices that have not yet been officially “approved” by the EPA, and to be able to place practices on land beyond what the City owns itself.


Project Overview

The James River Association has worked on the development of the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup as well as local cleanup plans and wanted to determine how localities could simultaneously meet their Chesapeake Bay and local cleanup goals. To quantify areas of overlap and potential coordination, the Association contracted with the Center for Watershed Protection (CWP) to conduct a study to demonstrate how this could be accomplished with bacteria cleanup plans in three James River watershed localities — Lynchburg, Williamsburg and Richmond areas.

Achieving nutrient pollution goals as a part of the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup is vital to the health of the James River, but Virginia has over 9,000 miles of streams that are impaired for bacteria. In order to determine how both goals could be met, this study compared the pollution reductions of the local bacteria cleanup plans to the pollution reductions necessary for the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup.

General Results

Overall, this study shows that the James River watershed localities can make significant progress towards Chesapeake Bay Cleanup goals through implementation of local cleanup plans. Because this study focused on local bacteria cleanup plans, the results provide a good snapshot of potential nutrient reductions associated with implementation of bacteria reduction strategies and identify BMPs that can reduce both bacteria and nutrients.


Advocate for your river.

Our Action Network made up of thousands of advocates contacts legislators, attends public hearings, researches policies and regulations, and helps us recruit others to speak up for the river.