Day #004: Water quality signage in the James River Park System

A cheap and easy improvement that could inform river goers and improve water quality for everyone.

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here.

  • Idea: Display water quality data on signage throughout the James River Park System.
  • Difficultly Scale: 1 — The data are already collected, and the signage within the park is already changed regularly based on the river level. The cost of installing the signs would be minimal compared to the benefit, and the additional cost of maintenance would be next to nothing.

The first and most valuable step to tackling any problem is informing. Many problems, like those facing the James River, result from a disconnect between actions and consequences. “Save the Bay” decorates the bumper of a car with a leaky oil pan. Developers planning to profit from the beauty of the river erode the banks and spew sediment while building luxury apartments. A riverside golf course uses hundreds of pounds of phosphorus-based fertilizers.

The Center for Watershed Protection is doing valuable work trying to improve the quality of one of Virginia’s most valuable assets: the James River. They have a well-researched and thorough action plan for improving the water quality of the entire 340 miles of the river which affects the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, their goals sometimes never reach the ears of the people who need the information the most.

The Virginia Department of Water Quality and James River Association already track several water quality metrics in the James River Park System, and the JRPS already has signage and a system in place for informing individuals about the river level. Why not add additional signage to help park-goers overcome that disconnect between actions and consequences? It could be change that helps attention to water quality reach a critical mass that results in permanent change.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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