Sewage leak, fecal bacteria in Tuckahoe Creek disrupts weekend plans at James River

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 2:15 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2021 at 2:33 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - According to the Virginia Department of Health, high levels of fecal bacteria were found in Tuckahoe Creek. The VDH says residents should continue to follow the recreational water advisory over the weekend.

The advisory comes after a sewer line broke near River Road at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, leaking 300,000 gallons of raw sewage into the water. A recreational water advisory was issued on July 29.

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 which is approximately 12 miles.

This weekend, health advisory signs were up at Robious Landing Park warning people not to go into the water.

John Landry and his family were part of the handful of visitors at the park. Landry says his white water rafting class was postponed this weekend because of the river conditions.

“It was disappointing because I actually tried to sign up for the class earlier in the summer and it was totally booked,” he said.

Mariah Landry’s plans to go to the James River were also postponed.

“I like to go to the river and swimming with my friends and we weren’t able to go this week,” she said. “The river is kind of the gem of Richmond.”

The samples were collected by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on July 28. Additional samples will be taken on August 2 and lab results will be available on August 3.

According to the sample results, raw sewage concentrations are not present in the James River but were very high in the creek.

“Out of an abundance of caution, it’s of course appropriate for them to keep folks off for the weekend,” said John Landry.

The VDH will provide another update on the advisory on August 4.

There has been no evidence at this time that this incident has impacted drinking water.

Ingesting contaminated water could result in stomach issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever. Contact with the water could also cause infection in the ears, nose, throat and skin.

Safety tips for the event of coming in contact with the contaminated water can be found on VDH’s website here.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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