Water Quality Monitoring

What is James River Watch?

James River Watch website

James River Watch is a river conditions map that communicates bacteria levels and other river conditions to the public. During the summer, weekly swimming, and paddling conditions are made available at www.jamesriverwatch.org, so before you head down to the banks of the James and take the plunge, remember that it pays to know before you go!

Why Monitor Bacteria?

While the James River is a great place to cool off, it can carry extra pollutants during periods of high water and after heavy summer downpours. Some segments of the river are impaired due to excessive harmful bacteria—which can make an afternoon on the river less enjoyable. James River Watch was designed to report bacteria levels and communicate them to the public, so you can have a better time on the water!

The State of the James is a report card summarizing ongoing efforts to bring the James River back to full health. This comprehensive assessment of the health of the river is published every two years. View the report to see how the river’s health has changed.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What day do you sample?
Volunteers collect water and take measurements on Thursdays between 9 am and 2 pm.  Depending on the site, there may be a short amount of time on Friday required to read your sample results.
Do I have to sample every week during the summer?  I have a vacation planned, can I still sample?
Before the season starts we try to get the availability for all of our volunteers and create a schedule for the whole summer.  Typically, volunteers will be assigned 3-4 weeks when they have indicated they are available, though that number may change based off of your availability and the availability of other volunteers. 

Want to learn more about James River Watch?

Volunteers help us track the health of the James by collecting water samples every Thursday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. No monitoring or science background is required. We will assign volunteers to sampling teams, and work with each volunteer to help establish a sampling schedule that fits individual schedules and availability.

Sampling Locations:


  • Hampton River, Hampton
  • Riverside Park, Newport News
  • Denbigh Park, Warwick River, Newport News
  • Deep Creek Marina, Newport News
  • Jamestown Beach, James City County
  • Powhatan Creek Park, James City County
  • College Creek Beach, Williamsburg
  • College Landing Park, Williamsburg
  • Chickahominy Riverfront Park (Chickahominy River)
  • City Point, Hopewell
  • Harvell Dam, Petersburg
  • Osborne Landing, Henrico County
  • Grapevine Bridge – Chickahominy River, Sandston
  • Pony Pasture, Richmond
  • Huguenot Flatwater, Richmond
  • Robious Landing, Chesterfield County
  • Rockett’s Landing, Richmond
  • 14th Street Access Point, Richmond
  • Rope Swing beach at Tredegar, Richmond
  • Reedy Creek, Richmond
  • 42nd Street JRPS Access, Richmond
  • Tucker Park at Maidens Crossing, Goochland County
  • Public boat ramp, Scottsville
  • Riveredge Park, Madison Heights
  • Ben Salem Wayside Park, Lexington (Maury River)
  • DGIF Public landing, Buchanan
  • Riverview Park, Charlottesville (Rivanna River)
  • Darden Towe Park, Charlottesville (Rivanna RIver)
  • Main Street Bridge, Farmville (Appomattox River)

Use your time on the river to give back to its health.

If you routinely spend time fishing, paddling, or boating the James or one of its tributaries, we have other volunteer opportunities that you may be interested in! 

water quality monitors