On a humid Wednesday morning, protesters gathered to hold a funeral for the James River in front of the Bremo Power Station in Fluvanna County.


The group is upset Dominion Virginia Power is moving forward with plans to dump treated coal ash pond water into the James.


According to the group of students, residents, nannas and a priest, the concern is that Dominion and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality are starting down a slippery slope.


Students from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia, Knitting Nannas of Virginia, and Bremo Bluff residents marched with signs and a symbolic river to the front gates of the Bremo Plant in protest.


The goal is to stop other rivers from facing the same fate as the James.


Dan Monges, a resident of Bremo Bluff, said he is worried about the James River.


"I'm in there," Monges said about the James. "I mow the lawn and I jump in the river. And I don't like the idea of sharing the river with stuff they put in there."


"They" are Dominion, and "stuff" is treated water from coal ash ponds at the Bremo Power Station.


On Wednesday, Dominion started pouring treated coal ash water into the James.


As part of the protests, the group sang a modified version of "Wade into the Water."


"It's connected with the African American plight during slavery and was used as a song when they were trying to flee, to direct people towards a safer route," said protest organizer and Knitting Nanna Marion Kanour.


She says, like the protest itself, the song they chose plays an important role in the message they are delivering.


"That was the symbolism for us today,'" Kanour continued. "What is the safe route for us given this toxic dump that's taking place?"


The boat launch across from the Bremo Power station highlights what protesters are worried about.


At the boat launch, people go kayaking, swimming and even fishing. Protesters say any toxins released into the water could hurt those people.


But Dominion says that is not actually the case.


"Everything we are doing is safe for the river," said Dominion spokesperson Dan Genest. "It will not harm the river. It will not injure or hurt the aquatic life."


Coal ash pond water has high levels of arsenic in it. But Dominion says after treatment, the pond water is virtually harmless and much cleaner than the standard set by the DEQ.


"You could hop in the river right there where the water is coming out," Genest explained.


He says the water is so harmless that he would go fishing right at the site where the water dump is happening.


But several students protesting at the Bremo Station say that is only part of the problem. They are concerned that Bremo is the start of laxer environmental regulations that could end in serious ecological disasters.


"They're only going to get worse," said Kendall King from the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition. "Our state refuses to act now on climate, which means that we are going to inherit a crisis that is far greater than the one we are facing right now."


Dominion says it has a third-party monitoring the arsenic levels in the water, and will report them online at Dom.com.


The Knitting Nannas says they will also do their own tests on the water to verify Dominion is accurately reporting its data.