On a picture perfect fall day, it's hard to see the James River as anything but the picture of health.
Looks can be deceiving.
The waterway that spans from Alleghany County to the Chesapeake Bay is getting a grade of "C" from the non-profit James River Association (JRA).
"For such an outstanding river, we cannot be satisfied with this grade," said Pat Calvert, Upper James "Riverkeeper" for the James River Association.
The JRA grades the river every two years, by measuring the health of the water and its surroundings.
Recent findings show that, despite some progress, the James is still moderately polluted.
"The health of the James River continues to struggle," said Calvert.
One of the biggest pollutants is sediment, or dirt, that washes into the river after heavy rain.
"Sediment pollution has shown no improvement over the past 20 years," Calvert said.
As more development occurs along the banks of the James, natural filters like grass and trees are being wiped out. Dirt and other particles have a clear path to wash directly into the river.
To improve the situation, communities like Lynchburg have created a storm water management plan.
"We have inspectors that have been hired," said Lynchburg city council member, Turner Perrow. "We have managers who oversee what's coming out of our storm water pipes, to control sediment runoff."
While city leaders are doing their part, experts say progress can't be made without the help of private land owners.
Lynchburg recently hired Chris Gyurisin to educate residents on ways to improve water quality.
"There are a lot of things folks can do around their home, like installing a rain barrel that helps reduce storm water runoff," said Gyurisin, who serves in the role of "outreach coordinator" for the department of water resources.
Experts say small efforts by everyone who lives along the river will eventually help the water achieve better health.