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Website highlights river conditions

Published 9:37pm Monday, June 17, 2013

A service by the James River Association gives recreational users of Suffolk’s waterways online access to information regarding swimming, boating and fishing conditions.

Just in time for summer, the association says it has updated its James River Watch website, available at www.jamesriverassociation.org/jrw, to include more information than what was previously available.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is helping support dozens of freshly trained volunteer citizen water monitors, who will provide updates on the James and its tributaries, including the Nansemond River, until September, according to a news release.

Volunteers will collect data on bacteria, water clarity and water temperature.

“A great deal of data on the James and its tributaries exists online,” Upper James Riverkeeper Pat Calvert stated. “However, it can be confusing and time-consuming to sort through the information.

“Rather than providing overly technical river and water quality data, the James River Watch has been carefully designed as a quick-and-easy reference for river users.”

Riverkeepers can also post alerts when a problem occurs, such as a sewage overflow, or highlight other things of interest, like a sturgeon sighting.

Calvert is described as having been instrumental in developing the website, with David Jansinski, of Chesapeake Environmental Communications, proving technical services.

U.S. Geological Survey river gauge stations and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration river buoys provide data for the site.

The website utilizes Google Maps, so users can zero in on a specific geographical area. A legend to the right of the map allows users to select conditions for boating, fishing or swimming.

Users can check boxes to see conditions for jellyfish or harmful algae, for instance, and the current weather can also be displayed.

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