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.


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.

Elected officials at every level of government need to hear that their constituents care about clean water and a healthy James River. We’ve identified policy solutions that will help us reach a “Grade A” river. Take action now to share those solutions with your representatives.

Richmond’s City Council Adopts Ordinance to Create Five New Parks in Southside

Mayor Levar Stoney made a commitment to improve park and green space access in 2018 and assembled a team to tackle the issue earlier this year....

Colonial National Historical Park Seeking Public Input on Proposed Amendment to Special Regulation Prohibiting Water Access

The National Park Service is soliciting public input on a proposal to amend the special regulations for Colonial National Historical Park. The rule...

Update from Virginia’s Special Session of the General Assembly

In March, state legislators passed a budget that included more than $200 million for some of our biggest priorities in land conservation,...

Become a RiverRep

Interested in taking a deeper dive into advocacy? Join RiverReps — passionate individuals ready to speak up on the issues impacting the James River.
RiverReps are trained in how to most effectively share their message for clean water, are kept in the loop on our advocacy strategy each legislative session, and are asked to take three advocacy actions per year. As a RiverRep, your voice can bring change to the James.

Register for a RiverRep Training

July 21, 2020; 11 am – Virtual Training

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.