WV Rivers News: Drinking Water Protections, Report on Access to Safe Water, New River Gorge Park & Preserve

WV Rivers Submits Recommendations for Stronger Water Protections

West Virginia has the 10th highest cancer rate in the nation, but the state is considering weakening water quality standards for some of the most toxic, cancer-causing pollutants. If you followed our efforts during 2019 Legislative Session, you’ll remember how hard we fought to update human heath criteria, which sets limits on toxins in our water. Sadly, the Legislature chose not to update our water quality standards due to pressure from chemical manufacturers who say it costs too much to reduce the amount of dangerous toxins they dump into our water supplies.

The Legislature set a deadline of October 1, 2019 for proposals to be submitted to WVDEP on any updates to human health protections. After months of research, analysis and consultations with public health experts, we summited a proposal on human health criteria limits to the WVDEP. Read our recommendations here.

What’s next? Over the next few months, there will be public meetings and opportunities for you to comment on how WVDEP should move forward. You’ll need to make your voice heard loud and clear that cancer-causing toxins don’t belong in our water.

Majority of WV Counties Struggle to Provide Safe Drinking Water

WV Rivers’ executive director, Angie Rosser, joined partners at a press conference on inequality and drinking water access.

Late last month, a new report found that more than half of West Virginia’s counties have struggled to provide drinking water that meets the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Nationally, 40% of people have consumed water from drinking water systems that violated the Safe Drinking Water Act at least once.

WV Rivers joined People Concerned About Chemical Safety, WV Branch of the NAACP, and Delegates Pushkin and Hansen at a press conference on the report demanding access to clean drinking water for all West Virginians. The report found that access to safe water is sharply divided along race and socioeconomic lines, with people of color disproportionately affected. You can read the full report here.

 New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Proposal

WV Rivers’ board member, Paul Breuer, speaks during the public meeting on the New River Gorge designation change.

On October 9, Senators Manchin and Capito and Congresswoman Miller held a public meeting in Fayetteville on a proposal to change the federal designation of the New River Gorge National River to the New River Gorge Park and Preserve. The Park and Preserve would create four areas designated as National Parks – Thurmond, Grandview, Standstone, and from Nuttalburg to Hawks Nest Dam. An additional 65,000 acres would be designated as Preserve land, which allows hunting.

During the meeting, WV Rivers asked how the designation change would affect visitor experience, environmental protection, and park funding. We’ll continue to closely follow the proposal and be the voice for public access and sound environmental management.

Showcasing Solar Power in West Virginia

Twin Spruce Marina in Morgantown was one of the locations on the National Solar Tour. 

WV Rivers was pleased to partner with Solar United Neighbors to help support the National Solar Tour in early October. The National Solar Tour is an annual event that highlights solar power across the country. More than 800 locations participated across the country, with nearly 80 in WV. Learn more here.

We are proud to support partners that are exploring alternative energy solutions, like solar, as West Virginia faces the realities of climate change. Earlier this month, West Virginians rallied in Charleston, as part of the Global Climate Strike, to demand elected leaders take action on climate change.

Get involved! Sign our petition to Senator Manchin and let him know you want him to act on climate!

Partnerships Make Good Things Happen for WV Water

Check out our Eastern Panhandle Field Coordinator, Tanner Haid, speak about bird conservation and climate change in the video above.

WV Rivers’ Safe Water for WV program is all about collaboration.

Earlier this month, we highlighted the importance of the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, which aims to increase veteran access to public lands. To lean more, check out a guest blog post our Eastern Panhandle Field Coordinator wrote for partner the Choose Clean Water Coalition.

We also partnered with the Potomac Valley Audubon Society to raise awareness of declining bird populations, habitat loss, and climate change. Learn more here and here. There is always more work to be done! If you’d like to get involved contact our Eastern Panhandle Field Coordinator, Tanner Haid.

West Virginia Environmental Council 30th Anniversary Event – October 12

The West Virginia Environmental Council is an integral partner in WV Rivers’ water policy work. E-Council represents and assists all types of environmental organizations in West Virginia. During the legislative session E-Council acts as an official lobbying organization for a wide range of environmental interests.

Find out more about E-Council and support their efforts during their 30th Anniversary Annual Meeting on October 12 at Coonskin Park.

Registration is $10 a person/$5 for students. Register online here and check out the event on Facebook.

Save Our Streams Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assessment Workshop – October 26

We’re partnering with the WVDEP’s Save Our Streams Program to train volunteer water quality monitors to conduct benthic macroinvertebrate assessments. Collecting, identifying and counting aquatic insects is a great way to understand the long-term and cumulative health of a stream. Read about a recent Save Our Streams workshop we hosted here.

Join us for our next Save Our Streams workshop at Camp Brookside Environmental Education Center in Brooks, WV on October 26. To learn more and register for the workshop, please email acrowe@wvrivers.org.

Registration is required, sign-up here.

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