RICHMOND – The health of the James River has improved over the past four decades, but it still has a long way to go.
The James River Association gives the waterway a grade of “C” in its “State of the James” report based on pollution, wildlife and habitat.
James River Association CEO Bill Street says cleanup is everyone's responsibility.
“The more people that enjoy and learn about the river the more they'll care about it and the more we can protect it,” he says.
In the 2013 report, the James River earned an overall score of 53 percent – up two points from two years ago – but the river's making strides in only two of 20 areas.
The watershed's bald eagle population and wastewater treatment pollution reduction both meet or exceed goals, but on the opposite side of the spectrum, sediment pollution has made no improvements in 20 years.
“The James River has nurtured Virginia for more than 400 years and as water becomes most critical resource of the 21st century it will be even more important to our children to protect it and nurture it.”
Street says every homeowner, business, farmer and developer can help by managing storm water.
Cities and counties need to adopt river-friendly practices.
The James River Association is also doing its part by expanding river monitoring and education programs and it's now partnering with the VCU Rice Rivers Center to address sediment concerns.
In the wildlife category, oysters remain at historically low levels and the American shad population has declined by more than one-fifth since 2011.
As far as habitat, there's been a decline in the quality of tidal water and the condition of streams.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond