The James River has been selected as the 2019 Thiess International Riverprize winner at the International Riversymposium in Brisbane, Australia. The winner was selected by the International River Foundation, which recognizes remarkable outcomes for rivers, river basins and their communities. The prize is considered the most coveted award of river and watershed restoration and is based on accomplishments in integrated river basin management.
The James River Association, which has served as a voice and advocate for the river for over forty years, submitted the application that summarized the restoration of the James from one of the nation’s most polluted rivers to one that has been consistently rated as the healthiest major tributary to the Chesapeake Bay by the University of Maryland. The JRA also produces a State of the James report which shows that the health grade of the James River has improved from a low D to a B- minus in 2019.
“The James River Association has worked to improve the health of the James River since 1976 when the James was considered one of the most polluted rivers in the country. 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, Chief Executive Officer 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 two other river finalists were the Chicago River in Illinois and the Whangawehi Stream in New Zealand. “We cumulatively degrade rivers – incrementally. And so it takes persistence, and dedication, and perseverance – and the shortlist of candidates this year have that in spades,” said Professor Paul Greenfield, Chair of the International River Foundation.
To find out more about the award, go to www.thejamesriver.org/riverprize.