Monday, May 10, 2010

Please Follow City's River Regulations

May 10, 2010 Reminder: Please follow River Regulations
The city of Richmond reminds visitors to the James River Park to obey Richmond’s river regulations.
“The regulations were put in place by the city of Richmond to increase public safety at the river. We want the public to enjoy the park, but we want them to be safe and to obey the regulations. They could save your life,” said J.R. Pope, director of the department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities.
The regulations require that anyone in the water must be wearing a life jacket when the water level reaches five feet at Richmond’s Westham Gauge. When the river level reaches nine feet, the river is closed and it is illegal for anyone who does not have a whitewater permit to be in the water.
“Now that the weather is warm, more people are coming out to enjoy the park and the river, and we want the public to know these river regulations,” Pope said. “If you plan on getting in the water – even if it’s just to wade along the shore or to go sit on a rock – it’s important for your own safety that you follow the regulations.”
Park staff posts signs throughout the James River Park, at river access points, when the water level reaches five feet that state you must wear a life jacket, and when it reaches nine feet the signs indicate that only people with a permit are allowed in the water.
Citizens can also check James River water levels before they leave home by calling Richmond’s weather and river level hotline at (804) 646-8228 and then selecting option 4, or by visiting the National Weather Service’s website at and typing “James River Westham” in the search box.
Pope says that many people don’t understand or underestimate the power of the river and that looks can be deceiving. While the water may look calm on the surface, it can be moving with such force below the surface that it makes it impossible to keep your footing even in a few feet of water. Also, conditions can change very quickly.
In addition to obeying the water level regulations, here are some other measures the department recommends people take to be safe at the river:
· If you can’t swim - just don’t go in.
· Never go in the water when you are alone.
· When visiting the river, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
· Pay attention to your surroundings. Water levels and conditions can change VERY quickly.
· Always wear shoes in the river.
· Be aware that the river bottom is uneven and may drop off suddenly and that the rocks can be slippery.
· Always have young children wear life jackets.
· Don’t overestimate your skills. Even the strongest swimmers and most experienced boaters can and have experienced difficulty.
Regulations also forbid bringing glass containers into the park, so remember to use plastic or paper items instead.
Finally, please do not litter. “Litter makes our parks unsightly and unsanitary,” said Pope. “You can help make Richmond a great place to be this summer by helping to keep our parks clean so everyone can enjoy them. We keep plenty of trash cans and recycling boxes around throughout of the park, so please use them.”