It’s the biggest honor a river can receive for restoration: the International River Foundation has awarded the Chesapeake’s James River the 2019 Theiss International Riverprize.
The prestigious award “champions integrated river basin management for the restoration, protection and sustainable management of the world’s rivers…by facilitating leadership, celebration and collaboration.”
The James River Association, which has led efforts to restore the river’s health since 1976, submitted the application summarizing the James’s progress from the extreme sewage, chemical, and sediment pollution that forced fisheries to close in the late 1970s to a consistent rating as the healthiest major tributary in the Chesapeake Bay today. The award comes with a cash prize of more than $137,000 and the opportunity to network with other river managers around the world.
“Winning the 2019 International Riverprize is a tremendous tribute to the progress that we have made together with the Commonwealth of Virginia and many public and private partners,” said William H. Street, CEO of the James River Association. “Receiving this award strengthens our resolve to continue this comeback story, and we hope it will inspire everyone who lives, works and plays around the James River to jump in and help out so the James remains a vital asset for our communities and for future generations.”
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation congratulated the James River Association on the award as well:
“Their leadership has helped inspire many people to improve the James, from farmers installing conservation practices in the river’s upper watershed to sewage treatment plant and stormwater upgrades in cities like Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Richmond, and Hopewell,” says Peggy Sanner, Senior Attorney and Assistant Virginia Director.
-John Page Williams