Speeches on the importance of water quality and conservation from Charles Ponticello, the creator of the sculpture, and Anne Wright, Assistant Professor of Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University.
In an interview the following day, Wright said the event had a great turnout. “I figured it as a pretty literate group on the topic of water quality,” Wright said of the gathering, which she estimated was about 80 people, including many members of the FOJRP (she is on the group’s board) and many members of the art community, there in support of Ponticello.
“There is a high quality community of bugs in the Falls of the James River,” Wright said, referring to research conducted by VCU. “You can tell a lot about the quality of water with insects.
“I’m an aquatic insect geek,” she said. Aquatic insects are in their larval stage in the water and “that’s what fish eat…it’s a good measuring stick for the health of the water.” It indicates that the water quality is improving and that there is more food available to animals that depend on the river.
During the evening, she said that James River Park manager Ralph White noticed stone flies on the windows of The Boathouse. That particular insect hatches in the dead of winter, Wright said. “Water quality has to be high to support an insect like stone flies,” and for whatever reason, the water temperature is cold enough in Richmond to support that population.
Wright mentioned that she and others are hoping to organize a lecture series for the Richmond area to further discuss environmental issues pertaining to the James River.