Water monitoring field technicians from the Piedmont Regional Office collect bacteria samples from the James River in Richmond each Summer. This activity provides information about water quality at the height of the outdoor recreation season. Bacteria levels are one indicator of whether or not the water is suitable for swimming. Information is collected at five locations: Pony Pasture, 42nd Street, Texas Avenue Beach, Hollywood Rapid at Belle Isle and Tredegar Iron Works. Samples from each station are analyzed for E. coli bacteria, which are indicators for the presence of harmful bacteria.
The map below shows the locations where samples are taken. By clicking on each of the stations (which are represented by the red stars), a new window will open with a chart showing the most recent data collected for E. coli. The red line on the chart represents the maximum allowable amount of bacteria in a single sample of water, which is the water quality standard for bacteria. For E. coli, the maximum amount is 235 counts per 100 milliliters.
The water quality standards for bacteria were changed in 2003. The old standard was for fecal coliform bacteria, and new the standard is for E. coli. The reason for the change is that E. coli bacteria are a better indication of contamination from human sources than fecal coliform bacteria.