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Recreational water advisory for James River lifted; Tuckahoe Creek should still be avoided

The James River is a popular spot for tourists to visit across much of the state. (Source: Bill...
The James River is a popular spot for tourists to visit across much of the state. (Source: Bill Draper)
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 3:09 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Department of Health has lifted its recreational water advisory for the James River after a sewer line broke but says Tuckahoe Creek should still be avoided.

On July 27, about 300,000 gallons of raw sewage was released into a ditch that outfalls to Tuckahoe Creek. The release happened after a Goochland County Public Utilities force main ruptured near River Road.

VDH issued the recreational use advisory on July 29 for the James River from Robious Landing Park in Chesterfield, Goochland and Henrico counties to Belle Isle in the City of Richmond due to levels of fecal bacteria found in the water.

Samples taken on Aug. 2 indicate that the levels have significantly decreased since the initial testing, leading officials to lift advisories for recreational water use.

However, testing of Tuckahoe Creek - which was impacted after the sewer line broke near River Road - still had elevated bacteria levels in two places.

“Based on decline of bacteria concentrations observed between July 29 and August 2, VDH advises the public in the vicinity of Tuckahoe Creek below River Road to avoid contact with the creek, until bacteria concentrations within this area return to acceptable levels, which should occur over the next week,” a release said.

Both sites with elevated levels were in the Eastern Branch of Tuckahoe Creek.

VDH released the following tips on how to reduce the chance of water illnesses due to sewage exposure:

  • 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.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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