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Natural Awakenings Richmond

Making a Difference Can Begin in Your Own Backyard

Aug 31, 2020 11:00AM ● By Erin Hillert

As a global pandemic surges and social distancing remains a reality, opportunities to give back to the community through fundraising events and volunteering efforts have been severely limited. The James River Association (JRA) has a community service solution you can do from your own backyard. Their River Hero Homes program provides homeowners living in close proximity to the watershed an opportunity to play a big role in reducing the amount of storm water runoff pollution that is a major threat to the health of the James River and its tributaries.

More than 2.7 million Virginians depend on the James River for their drinking water. Every time it rains, fertilizers, herbicides, bacteria from pet waste and chemicals that are unsafe for people and wildlife flow into local waterways. Becoming a River Hero Home is a manageable and impactful way to ensuring the river’s health and enjoyment now and for future generations.

October is River Hero Home month, and the JRA has plans to work with three Richmond public libraries to encourage pledges and educate concerned citizens on the benefits of reducing stormwater pollution by committing to River Hero Home actions. At least 60 rain barrels will be distributed in the community over the course of the month, with rain barrel workshops taking place for those interested in installing one at their home.

To become a River Hero Home, sign up to take a pledge to adopt three out of five behaviors to incorporate into everyday life, including picking up after dog droppings; reducing or eliminating the use of herbicides and pesticides; avoiding planting invasive species and using native plans to support wildlife and reduce watering needs; using alternatives to municipal drinking water such as rain barrels for irrigation; and reducing the need for fertilizer by encouraging healthy soil with mulch and compost.

For more information, visit

Erin Hillert serves as the Marketing & Communications Manager for the James River Association.