High water in the James brings concerns about bacteria

High water in the James brings concerns about bacteria
High levels of bacteria are a concern in the James. (Source: NBC12)
High levels of bacteria are a concern in the James. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The James River is a popular spot for many people looking to cool down on a hot holiday weekend. But before you jump in, keep an eye on the water and bacteria levels because your safety could depend on it.

The string of recent storms means visitors will need to be extra cautious if they plan to go in.

"We actually just drove up this morning to try to get on the river," said Tammy Krejcarek, who is visiting from Williamsburg with friends.

They wanted to spend the weekend tubing on the James, but the water level is above 5 feet, which means life jackets are required. So they're staying out for now.

"We called and they said they would not recommend us going out due to the rapids and some of the holes in the water unless you knew the line of the river, which we don't," she said.

Sonia Michel and her daughter took the kayaks out Friday morning with their dogs.

"Definitely not smooth sailing; you have to be a pretty good paddler," said Michel. But, she says, they stayed in the calmer areas that are protected by islands.

The bacteria level is also being monitored. The James River Association tests it every week during the busy months and posts the results online at www.jamesriverwatch.org.

Just updated Friday, bacteria levels dropped drastically compared to last week, but that could change with more rain.

The James River Association says bacteria levels usually go back to normal 48 hours after a rainstorm. Officials with the association say prevention is key to keep bacteria levels low, which means picking up after your pets or planting trees or vegetation in your yard that soak up rain water.

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