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Saturday, July 16, 2011

A New Beginning on the River


The Crew Arrives at Chesterfield
Day 20, July 14th
We woke up this morning somewhat struggling to leave our luxurious campsite on Rocket’s Landing. Claire and her sister Ali treated us to bacon and sausage biscuits and cinnamon rolls. We ferried our canoes up river to one of Richmond’s water treatment plants.  When we arrived we were greeted by Bob Steidel an employee of the plant. He showed us where the water enters the James after being treated.  We the meet up with Clair Watson informed us on how the plant treats a combined sewer.  We then were treated to a tour of the plant where we got to see up close the filters that the water goes through to become clean.  They use both physical and biological filters at the plant to try and get rid of the gunk in the water.  We learned how choline is used to clean the water and then sulfur dioxide is used to take the chlorine out. The cool thing is that they are planning to replace those chemicals with UV lights making them unnecessary.
After saying our goodbyes, we met Chuck Frederickson, the Lower James River Keeper.  He welcomed us and gave us a brief intro to the Lower James.  Chuck then came along with us as we continued our journey down stream.
                  As a group we all noticed a huge change in the James.  Instead of traveling with a downstream flow, we were the mercy of the tides and so it was a much longer and tiring day. Along with the tides being an issue, the river’s width expanded exponentially and made us feel somewhat out of place compared to huge barges and boats.  Our last week on the Lower James will definitely be a completely new experience that we all look forward too.
Towards lunch we began to get “Hangry”( a term that we have coined where you become hungry and angry and take it out on your partner) We were  then greeted by smiles and words of encouragement from  Virginia, Jim, Cindy, Mark, and David.  After a brief rest time they joined us on our canoes for our final mile till camp.
Before we rolled out our sleeping bags we were treated to pizza, soda and a guided tour of Chesterfield Power Plant by Dawn and Jason. We first learned how the plant works and had a question and answer.  We discussed that the plant produces 11% of all of Virginia’s electricity and that the water upon reentering the James is at an unfortunately high temperature of 100-115F preventing aquatic life from being present. We were then taken to the control rooms of both the plant and the environmental part as well. We saw the turbines and generators that actually produces the electricity.  Dawn and Jason took us 250 feet up to a view that few get to experience.  Even the Richmonders were awed by the unique vista looking back to the Capital city from tide water plain.  There was also a bird’s eye view of the scrubbers, which uniquely uses clean effluents from a neighboring sewage treatment plant to remove acid rain causing chemicals with taking any extra water from the James. 
Dawn then lead us to showers which were graciously complimented by toiletry bags and towels.  We were shown to our log cabin that was built when the plant was for the first supervisor.
It was a long fulfilling day for us and now we must say goodbye, until ma├▒ana.
Written by Grant Gibson & Isaac Schumacher
Paddling past the deepwater terminal

Clean Stack blowing steam

high atop a huge catlytic converter

Isaiah and Troy

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