WV Rivers News: Climate on the Ballot, Impacts to Coonskin Park, PFAS Action Alert

Clean Water Act Turns 50

On October 18, the Clean Water Act marked its 50th Anniversary. Over the last half century the Clean Water Act has worked to improve water quality in West Virginia and across the nation. But there is still a long way to go to achieve the Act’s original goal that all navigable waters are fishable, swimmable and safe sources of drinking water.

In the Fall edition of our print newsletter, Headwaters, we take a closer look at how the Clean Water Act works in West Virginia and where it falls short. Download your copy.

Looking for more Clean Water Act content? Check out this round up of media coverage featuring WV Rivers:

Climate is on the Ballot

This year the climate is on the ballot at every level. From local city races to state and federal elections, climate change affects every facet of government.

Our government must address climate questions daily. Is the stormwater infrastructure resilient enough to support more frequent and intense floods, and can the electrical grid handle more severe heat waves or storms? What measures will be taken to protect homes and businesses during these weather events, and if disaster strikes, how prepared are we to support impacted communities?

That’s why the West Virginia Climate Alliance is hosting a series of candidate forums that put the focus on climate policy.

The final forum in the series is scheduled for October 26 in Dunbar. You can watch recordings of the Morgantown and Huntington forums and other climate related videos here. Read reflections on the forums in this blog by our climate campaign coordinator, Morgan King.

PFAS Detected in Ohio River

WV Rivers, who serves as the WV Headwaters Waterkeeper, participated in a nationwide analysis of PFAS contamination. PFAS are manmade chemicals, commonly known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t breakdown in the environment. There are thousands of types of PFAS. Public health studies increasingly link these toxic chemicals to serious health conditions including cancer.

A total of 113 Waterkeepers across the nation collected samples from 114 waterways throughout 34 states and the District of Columbia.

Independent analysis of these samples indicates a shocking level of contamination. 94 participating Waterkeeper groups confirmed the presence of PFAS in their waterways. You can read the report here.

In West Virginia, WV Rivers tested the Ohio River upstream and downstream of the Chemours Washington Works facility and analysis detected one type of PFAS in our sample that was two times higher in concentration downstream than upstream. The Upper Potomac Riverkeeper tested Opequon Creek and found PFAS at concerning levels. See the map of results here.

Program director, Autumn Crowe, takes a sample from the banks of the Ohio River to test for PFAS.

The EPA has proposed to list PFAS as hazardous waste which would strengthen regulations around its use and provide funding to clean up contaminated sites. Tell EPA you support their proposal and want them to protect our communities from PFAS.

Be an Advocate for Wild & Wonderful

Standing up good public policy is a year-round job in West Virginia. That’s why WV Rivers is inviting you to join us to learn about effective advocacy. Advocating for the issues you care about doesn’t have to be intimidating! In fact, your legislators want to hear from you – you are a voter.

Earlier this month we hosted a brief webinar on grassroots advocacy to energize and empower YOU to speak up for what you care about. You can view a recording of the webinar here. Remember, you aren’t alone as you advocate. All of us here at WV Rivers are eager to help you speak up on the environmental issues you care about!

Leaving a Legacy Gift for Rivers

Have you ever thought about your role in sustaining West Virginia’s exceptional rivers and streams?

It’s National Estate Planning Awareness Week and if you’d like to think more deeply about the legacy you can make on your favorite rivers in the Mountain State, reach out to Chett Pritchett, Development Officer at cpritchett@wvrivers.org.

Coonskin Park to Lose 40% through Proposed Yeager Expansion

Around 60 people gathered in on a drizzly October afternoon to hike the Alice Knight Memorial Trail in Coonskin Park. Folks came to learn about a proposed expansion to Yeager Airport that would destroy around 40% of the 1,000 acre Coonskin Park, including a headwater stream, Coonskin Branch.

Charleston residents shared their stories about recreating in the park and their connection to this wild urban greenspace. Read MetroNews coverage on the hike and proposed airport expansion.

The FAA will be holding public scoping meetings on the proposal November 2 and 3 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel located at 300 Court Street, Charleston, West Virginia. Comments made during the scoping meetings will be taken in to consideration as an Environmental Impact Statement is developed for the project.

A virtual public scoping meeting will be held on November 7, register here

Public comments on the scoping period are due by November 17, 2022.

Questions? Need help preparing your comments? Send us a message!

Opportunities to Connect, Explore and Advocate

Virtual Ohio River Valley Listening Sessions – October 25 and 26

The Ohio River Valley needs and deserves federal designation as a watershed region to receive federal restoration funds, like the Chesapeake Bay watershed or the Great Lakes. WV Rivers invites you to come and voice your priorities and concerns for the ORV during an online listening session. Your feedback will help us draft the plan to restore the Ohio River and support a thriving ORV!

Join us virtually:

Tuesday, October 25 at 3:30pm. Register.

Wednesday, October 26 at 3:30pm. Register.

Candidate Forum Series Spotlights Climate, Jobs and Justice – October 25

Join the West Virginia Environmental Council, Our Future WV, WV Citizens Action Group, WV Climate Alliance​ and West Virginia New Jobs Coalition partnered​ for a candidate forum on Tuesday, October 25th from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. Doors will open at 5:30pm for a meet and greet with refreshments at the West Virginia State University Davis Fine Arts Center.

Voters will have the opportunity to hear candidates discuss the future of West Virginia around the theme of energy, jobs, and justice with a focus on climate change. Candidates will answer written questions from the public and partner organizations during this moderated event.

Register for free and submit your questions for candidates.

Huntington Pride – October 22

Stop by and chat with WV Rivers staff during Huntington Pride on October 22! We’ll have stickers and other goodies – hope to see you there!

Fall Bike Ride with the WV Climate Alliance – November 3

Enjoy a fall bike ride with the West Virginia Climate Alliance on a tour of various green infrastructure sites around West Virginia’s capital city. Meet at Taylor Books (226 Capitol Street) at 5:30pm and join us on a 45-minute ride around Charleston’s historic East End neighborhood and back to the heart of downtown where we’ll end with an optional happy hour at Fife Street Brewing (180 Summers Street). Join us for this fun, family-friendly group bike tour around Charleston. Please bring your own bike and don’t forget your helmet! This event is free and welcome to all. Register for free here.

Cacapon River Film Festival – November 12

This free event supports the Keep the Cacapon Clean initiative through education, outreach, and networking.

During the film festival, 7 films ranging from documentaries to humorous YouTube river experiences will be shown. Light snacks available. Learn more.

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