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Health Department: People, Pets Should Stay Out Of James River Near Richmond

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Virginia Department of Health
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The Virginia Department of Health updated the advisory on August 4th. 

Click here to read the update

Update from Friday, July 30:

The Virginia Department of Health says an advisory for the James River and Tuckahoe Creek, west of Richmond, will remain in effect through the weekend.

The health department says the advisory is precautionary for the James.  Here is Friday's updated information:

(Richmond, VA) -- The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is issuing an update for the recreational water advisory issued July 29 for Tuckahoe Creek beginning at River Road, including the Eastern and Western Branches of Tuckahoe Creek, and the James River from Robious Landing Park in Chesterfield, Goochland, and Henrico counties to Belle Isle in the City of Richmond. Sampling results collected by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on July 28 indicate the need to maintain the advisory due to high levels of fecal bacteria in Tuckahoe Creek, which may impact portions of the James River of high recreational use.

The sample results at the time of the collection do not indicate that raw sewage concentrations were present in the James River itself, but were concentrated within the creek. This advisory is maintained in an abundance of caution due to the concentration and volume of sewage released into the creek, and its potential to be transported to the James River.

For the safety of people and pets, VDH is advising that recreational water activities, such as swimming, wading, tubing, and whitewater kayaking (where submersion in the water is likely), should continue to be avoided over the weekend. Additional samples are scheduled to be collected on Monday, August 2, weather permitting, by DEQ to re-evaluate the extent of the sewage impact. Laboratory results for samples are expected on August 3, and VDH plans to issue an update to this advisory on August 4.

Original Story:

The health department says people should stay out of a section of the James River in the Richmond area.

A broken pipe spilled raw sewage into Tuckahoe Creek and the James River in Goochland County Tuesday night. 

The health department says people and pets should stay out of the James from Robious Landing Park, west of Richmond to Belle Isle in the city, as well as Tuckahoe Creek.

Officials say they are monitoring bacteria levels and will lift the advisory once they’re back to acceptable levels.

Here is the complete announcement from the Virginia Department of Health:

(Richmond, VA) -- The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is issuing a recreational water advisory for all of Tuckahoe Creek beginning at River Road, including the Eastern and Western Branches of Tuckahoe Creek, and the James River from Robious Landing Park in Chesterfield, Goochland, and Henrico counties to Belle Isle in the City of Richmond.  For the safety of people and pets, VDH is advising that recreational water activities, such as swimming, wading, tubing, and whitewater kayaking (where submersion in the water is likely), should be avoided. The advisory is issued out of an abundance of caution due to a sewage release from a Goochland County Department of Public Utilities sewer force main on July 27 into Tuckahoe Creek.

On the evening of July 27, it was first reported at approximately 7:30 p.m. to the Virginia Emergency Operations Center that a 40-inch force main ruptured near River Road, causing the release of sewage to a ditch, which outfalls to Tuckahoe Creek. The release was stopped at approximately 11 p.m. on July 27. Goochland County estimates that 300,000 gallons of raw, undiluted sewage was released to Tuckahoe Creek.

The creek travels approximately 3.75 miles along the mainstem and the Eastern Tuckahoe Branch to its confluence with the James River near Robious Landing in Henrico, Goochland, and Chesterfield counties. Tuckahoe Creek travels approximately six miles along the mainstem and the Western Tuckahoe Branch to its confluence with the James River near the Chippenham Parkway bridge crossing. To ensure public safety in this high-recreational use waterbody, the advisory extends from the James River at Robious Landing Park to include all of Belle Isle (approximately 12 miles of the James River).

Activities on the waterbodies, which are not likely to result in water submersion (boating, fishing, canoeing), may continue with proper caution to avoid contact with the water.

VDH has observed no evidence of impacts to drinking water at this time.

Goochland Department of Public Utilities will be repairing the section of damaged sewer main this week. No sewage is currently being released to waterways. The Department of Environmental Quality is working to collect samples on Tuckahoe Creek, where accessible, and the James River in the areas noted above, to monitor the bacteria concentrations as the sewage release moves through these waterbodies. Advisories will be lifted once bacteria levels in these vicinities are at levels acceptable for recreational contact.

Swallowing contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal illnesses, with vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever. Contact with contaminated water also can cause infections of the ears, nose, throat and skin.

To prevent recreational water illnesses due to exposure to sewage release events, people should:

?      Avoid contact with the waterbodies noted above and observe advisory signage posted at waterbody access points.

?      Avoid any area of the waterbody where there is water with a foul odor, dead or dying fish, or discolored water.

?      Promptly wash skin with soap and water if you cannot avoid contact with water in the vicinity.

?      Seek medical care and notify your practitioner of the waterbody exposure if you experience adverse health effects after contact with the waterbody.

For more information on recreational water safety, see “Safely Enjoy Virginia’s Natural Waters” and other materials at www.SwimHealthyVA.com.

 

David Seidel is proud to lead the journalists at Radio IQ and WVTF as news director. David joined the newsroom in May 2017 and brings more than 20 years of experience in broadcast journalism in Virginia. Prior to joining Radio IQ David was an assistant news director, assignment manager and producer at WDBJ Television in Roanoke. He also worked as a reporter for WHSV Television in Harrisonburg. David graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington with degrees in journalism and history.
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