From the Times Dispatch article:
About 2.6 million gallons of partially treated sewage flowed into the James River on Saturday when Lynchburg’s sewage-treatment plant lost power from Friday’s thunderstorms, officials said.
The sewage was disinfected with chlorine, but it did not get full treatment, which includes using microbes to break down waste, said Fred DiLella, a water compliance manager for the state Department of Environmental Quality.
The risk to swimmers and paddlers from Lynchburg to Richmond is unclear, but a state Department of Health official said it was probably low.
“I don’t think there is a significant risk, but we want people to be aware that there certainly is a risk from swimming in any water body that is not treated,” said Rebecca LePrell, the department’s director of environmental epidemiology.
People generally should avoid swimming in streams for three days or so after a sewage release or after a heavy rain, which can wash pollutants into waterways, LePrell said. Today is the third day after the Lynchburg release.
People who do get in the James or other rivers should try to avoid swallowing water and avoid swimming with open wounds, LePrell said.
Human and animal waste contain bacteria that can sicken people who ingest river water. Open wounds can become infected.
Health officials did not make an announcement after the sewage release but responded to questions from paddlers and others, LePrell said.