Richmond monitoring James River levels, could implement water usage measures

Richmond monitoring James River levels, could implement water usage measures

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond and surrounding counties are monitoring levels in the James River for potential water usage efforts.

The city said Thursday that voluntary conservation measures could be implemented as early as next week if the area does not receive a good amount of rainfall.

“The source water we use to deliver clean drinking water on a daily basis comes from the James River and it comes from rainfall,” Richmond’s director of public utilities Calvin Farr Jr said.

If needed, an advisory will be issued for the city and surrounding counties - Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico and Powhatan - to voluntarily reduce water consumption as part of the James River Regional Flow Management Plan.

The threshold for the James River is 1,200 cubic feet per second, which flows through the Richmond-Westham Gauge. Currently it’s at 1,201 cubic feet per second.

“We’re right there,” Farr said.

Due to the drought across much of Virginia, it’s creating concern locally.

All of Virginia is experiencing a drought (Source: United States Drought Monitor)
All of Virginia is experiencing a drought (Source: United States Drought Monitor) (Source: United States Drought Monitor)

“Today’s drought monitor just updated and it indicates all of the area under a moderate or severe drought, and that continues," NBC12 meteorologist Jim Duncan said. "Since August, most areas are under 1 inch of rain.”

When you compare the amount of rainfall to this time last year, there’s a stark difference. Rocketts Landing in Richmond was under water. Thursday, the river level was fairly low.

While the last time the city implemented a voluntary water conservation measure was in 2017, Farr encourages folks to conserve water on a daily basis. In regards to the situation the area currently faces, there’s one effort that could make a big difference.

“What I understand is we can cut back on irrigation of yards," Farr said. "That will help us out quite a bit.”

Depending on what kind of rainfall we see will depend on whether these voluntary water conservation measures go into effect.

“Rain chances are actually increasing, beginning later this weekend and even maybe next week," Duncan said. "Maybe if we’re lucky the pattern changes will be in the cards.”

Water conservation tips can be found on the Virginia Department of Health website.

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