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VDH lifts recreational advisory for James River

Virginia Department of HealthThe Virginia Department of Health is lifting the recreational advisory issued July 29 for the James River due to results from recent testing.

Sampling results collected by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on Aug. 2 indicate bacteria concentrations in the James River from Robious Landing Park in Chesterfield, Goochland, and Henrico counties to Belle Isle in the City of Richmond are at levels acceptable for all recreational water uses.

As of Aug. 2, Tuckahoe Creek, which was impacted during the sewage release that occurred off River Road on July 27, still had elevated levels of bacteria observed at two sites. The levels were dramatically less than sample results on July 29, and Tuckahoe Creek has limited public access.

Based on decline of bacteria concentrations observed between July 29 and Aug. 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. Both sites with elevated bacteria levels are located within Tuckahoe Creek and in the Eastern Branch of Tuckahoe Creek.

On July 27, a Goochland County Public Utilities force main ruptured near River Road, causing the release of an estimated 300,000 gallons of raw, undiluted sewage to a ditch, which outfalls to Tuckahoe Creek. The release was stopped at approximately 11 p.m. on July 27.

Repairs of the force main were completed on Friday, July 30, and the Eastern Goochland Pump Station was brought back online Aug. 3.  On July 31, Goochland Public Utilities finished recovering sewage that had pooled near the site of the force main failure.

Tuckahoe Creek travels approximately 3.75 miles along the mainstem and the Eastern Tuckahoe Branch to its confluence with the James River near Robious Landing Park in Henrico, Goochland, and Chesterfield counties. Tuckahoe Creek travels approximately six miles along the mainstem and the Western Tuckahoe Branch to its confluence with the James River near the Chippenham Parkway bridge.

Elevated bacteria levels were observed at two sites on August 2; at approximately 1.25 miles south along Tuckahoe Creek of River Road, and at the Gaskins Road Bridge crossing of the Eastern Branch of Tuckahoe Creek.

To prevent recreational water illnesses due to exposure to sewage release events, people should:

  • 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.

For more information on recreational water safety, see “Safely Enjoy Virginia’s Natural Waters” and other materials at