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Concerns of Living on the Rivers of Virginia

As a scenic wonder, the Rivers of Virginia offer a peace and serenity unlike any other. The movements of the waves and the sounds of the water gently lapping the shore deliver an organic setting for any idyllic home site.

But all this soul-enriching beauty is not without cautions. And it is by facing these concerns head on that we may envision a home built to embrace the wonders of riverfront home site without fear.

Flooding, of course is the major concern of life by the river, and we will address that below. But there are a few concerns that exist regardless of the river’s elevation.

First Concerns

1) Attractive Nuisance

While that term is generally used to describe swimming pools or other potential hazards, the river inexorably draws children to it, meaning one must take care when raising children alongside a river, or entertaining guests with children, who may not have the heightened awareness of the river, which you have developed.

2) Fish Can Pose a Threat

Hard to believe, but the aquatic dinners that can be pulled from the James or Rivanna River have the potential to by contaminated by pollutants leached into the river. Fortunately the Virginia Department of Health offers a comprehensive listing of monitored hazards. Poisonous snakes frequent the banks of the river, and one should learn to identify the poisonous species before they chance a bite.

3) River Encroachment

A naturally running river is constantly reshaping its shoreline. Attention should be paid to areas of the shore where the river has undercut the bank.

4) Insurance Requirements

Many homeowners’ policies don’t offer flood insurance, but it can be obtained from the Federal Government Flood Insurance program.

5) Pollution Threats

The river has the potential to be threatened by pollution from several sources. Industrial sites can have uncontrolled chemical substances leaking into the river. Fertilizers applied to farmers’ fields can make their way into the river, and every private septic system has the capacity to leach into the ground water or leak via the surface.

Flood Impact

6) Loss of Utilities

Flooding can cause the loss of Public Utilities. This means you could find yourself without utilities, water, even sewer systems if you are hooked to the general public sewer system. Stock up on bottled water and you may want to have a generator on hand to ease any outages.

7) Loss of Egress

The roads along the James or Rivanna Rivers may be covered in a flood. If your home is not built on a higher level, you will want to seek higher ground before the roads are blocked by water. Do not drive through water covered roads during a flood. Need I say more?

8) Water Damage

A flood will have lasting damage on any floor or wall finishes installed. Take into account the effect of water and mud on the materials used when designing your home. Insulation and other construction products can be compromised as well. Huge quantities of garbage will also find its way into the river and can be deposited in the most inconvenient locations.

8) Damage to Plants and Animals

A flood can have a devastating effect on the animals and plants that surround your home. Livestock and pets are at risk of being swept away. Crops are jeopardized as are the habitats of the wildlife.

9) Erosion Damage

Vast amounts o f water moving swiftly can undermine structures such as docks and bridges. The fast moving currents can carry huge quantities of silt which will be deposited somewhere along the way, changing the local topography, and perhaps leaving large amounts of material on your lawn or driveway.

After the Flood

10) Financial Impairments

Often a flood will impede commerce, and other than cleanup and reconstruction, local economies may suffer, resulting in job losses. Homes damaged in the flood will receive financial payouts, making the homeowners targets for insurance scammers seeking to take deposits only to abandon the project.

Life along the James or Rivanna Rivers can pose a challenge. Of course, there is no home site without a peril or two. But the dangers can be alleviated by awareness and planning. The rewards cannot be replaced.