Wet winter keeps James River water levels high

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond's long and snowy winter could have lasting effects on the James River this spring and summer; from high water to even higher pollution levels.

We had more than 9 inches of rain the past three months and more than 28 inches of snow last winter. The river his more than 10 feet high right now and it's muddy and murky.

All that snow and rain has lead to this...a wild and very brown James River.

"The river is very high and very brown and very muddy. And that's a sign that a lot of pollution is being flooded into the river," said Bill Street.

Street keeps a close eye on the river. He's the Executive Director of the James River Association. He says a quarter of the state drains into the James, which means our long winter is still lingering.

"84 percent of what we would typically see in a whole year, we've had as far as pollution going into the James River," Street said.

James River Park Manager Ralph White says erosion is a problem, but these high water levels also help.

"A nice 15-16 footer. Really cleans out the channels. It's mother nature's sneeze, and the river's all the better for it," said White.

He says the tough winter will lead to better recreational boating, better passage way for the fish to spawn, and will recharge the ground water for the hot summer months.

"This is putting money in the bank so we can pull it out later when we need it," White said.

There are still pot holes to be fixed and damage from winter flooding in the parks, but river enthusiasts say you can bank on it, lots of precipitation now mean more time in the river this summer before water levels get too low.

"This is a good thing. When you have a pulse of water at the end of winter the beginning of spring it cleans the river out," he said.

Keep this number handy if you want to check up on the water levels here as the weather gets nicer. You can call, 646-8228 just dial the number 4 and listen for Richmond Westham. Remember if the river is higher than 9 feet, you need a permit. If it's higher than 5 feet you must wear a life jacket.

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