Water Levels Too High for Holiday Fun on the James River

By: Stacy Berman
By: Stacy Berman

September 4, 2006

Tubing down the James River is an activity that remains popular during the summer months with Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day being the busiest. Unfortunately, this year Mother Nature had other plans.

Although Ernesto has come and gone, the aftermath is still present in areas of the James River. While Scottsville only saw around six inches of rain, it's the regions upstream that cause the problems.

“The west of us wasn't quite as bad except up and around Wintergreen, and so that's the result we're seeing now," explained Jeff Schmick, owner of James River Runners Inc. who rents out tubes, canoes, and other water equipment.

So with all that rain, the water level remains too high to tube or canoe and the clarity of the water has been poor.

"Right now it's running five feet. At its max it was running around nine. The clarity is improving, but over the weekend it was very muddy.

Ironically enough, less than a week ago, businesses along the James River were concerned about the low water levels.

"The water had actually gotten too low for us to go, so we welcomed the rain. Although it came at a bad time, you got to have it because we weren't going to float anyway," said Schmick with a smile.

There are specific temperature combinations needed to determine when to take the tubes or canoes down to the river.

"We need for tubing, to have a combination of air temperature and water temperature of at least a hundred and fifty. For canoeing and rafting, we have to have a water temperature and air temperature combined of at least 110 or more. When it gets below that 150 level for tubing, it gets mighty uncomfortable," he explained.

Although this final holiday weekend of the summer ended on a sour note, Jeff and his colleagues at James River Runners Inc. are optimistic about the rest of the season.

"We'll be opened until the second week of October, as long as the weather holds out," he said.

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