Safety rules in place due to high water - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Safety rules in place due to high water

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The James River crested overnight at almost 11 feet, and even though it's on the way down, the water can still hold some dangers. That's why you'll see high water level postings all along the river. Until the water recedes, you'll need a special permit, and a life jacket to get into the water.

As the water rises, dangerous currents can develop, and heavy debris, like tree limbs, starts drifting down the river. The rules are meant to keep you safe.

The James River's angry rapids draw thrill seekers, like a white water rafting crew from Virginia Commonwealth University.

"Are you kidding? That looks awesome," said Matt Marino.

"I was kind of an adrenaline junky, so I was down to go out there with him," said VCU student Nathan Stover.

But firefighters warn that serious danger exists when the river level rises, and most shouldn't tempt the river.

"We've already had one person that we know of, maybe even a second person, to drown in the river this year, and the water level was less than 5 feet," said Lt. Shawn Jones, spokesman for the Richmond Fire Department.

To get in the water you'll need a life-jacket, several emergency tools, and a permit. The permits aren't just for serious rafters or kayakers. When the river is this high, even if you want to put your feet in, you're going to need a permit and a life jacket, or you could be fined up to $100 dollars.

"We have a lot of times where people may just want to put their feet in the water, and then they may just want to get in the water themselves," said Jones.

Instead, Jones says you might just want to appreciate the river from the shore line.

"It's really rough and it's big. I've been watching it from the bridge and it's very rough and big and I just wanted to see it close up and feel it," said Kittygale McMoon.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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