Area homeowners can help the James

Published 10:05 pm Monday, April 8, 2013

The James River Association is calling on homeowners in the James River watershed to improve the local environment by becoming a certified River Hero Home.

During April, the association wants to certify 50 area homes, a news release states. Homes can become certified by installing a “river friendly practice,” like adding a rain barrel to a downspout, installing pervious pavers or constructing a rain garden.

River Hero Homes also follow some simple actions to reduce pollution, including picking up after pets, reducing lawn fertilizer use, maintaining septic systems and planting native plants.

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Such action “may seem trivial,” the release states, “but when adopted on a wide scale, (they) can have a significant impact on local water quality.”

In the month of April, rain showers increase stormwater pollution in local streams and the James River, according to the release.

“Many people don’t realize that even if they can’t see the river — or any body of water — from their house, their actions still impact the health of the James River and its tributaries,” Michelle Kokolis, the association’s watershed restoration projects manager, stated in the release.

“Most rain water that goes into storm drains does not get treated. It flows off your lawn, into the street, and directly into a local waterway.”

Such stormwater pollution is the widest-spread source of pollution, thus posing the greatest threat to the health of the James River, the release states.

“In particular, sediment, and nitrogen and phosphorus from lawn fertilizers cause widespread damage to the river ecosystem,” the release states.

“The James River Association’s River Hero Homes program helps homeowners do their part to eliminate their home’s runoff.”

Homeowners who have their home certified also save money by, for example, reducing

municipal water usage by installing a rain barrel to capture rainwater for garden use,

and enjoying exclusive discounts at participating local garden centers.

Some localities offer a stormwater utility credit for River Hero Home-certified homes, and certification also earns a garden flag, window cling, a dedicated Google group

and an invitation to the annual River Hero Home Award Party.

For more information, visit

The James River Association, a nonprofit located in Richmond, was established in 1976 with the mission of being the guardian of the James River.

Its four programs include watershed restoration, education and outreach, river advocacy, and the Riverkeeper program.

For more information on the association, visit