About WV Rivers
Founded by paddlers and whitewater enthusiasts who cared deeply about restoring and caring for the Mountain State’s renowned free-flowing waters and scenic beauty, West Virginia Rivers Coalition (WV Rivers) is the only statewide organization focused on promoting the overall health of West Virginia’s waters and their downstream benefits.
Thirty-two years later, we are on the forefront of policy discussions in West Virginia as the driving force for preserving and improving water quality. Our analysis, input, and mobilization of citizens and allied organizations is critical to providing balance and credibility in the policy debate. Without our work, the public would not have the facts to hold decision-makers accountable to policies guided by science and the public interest.
West Virginia Rivers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and a state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation.
Mission & Vision
Our mission is to conserve and restore West Virginia’s exceptional rivers and streams. We value clean water as the foundation of life. We believe that all people should respect and be able to enjoy clean West Virginia rivers and streams. We operate under the premise that inclusive and diverse civic engagement is the key to building political power to affect change.
When our mission is realized, West Virginia rivers and streams are restored. They are clean and protected. People appreciate and respect clean, healthy rivers that support habitat and wild places for wildlife to thrive. These restored rivers and streams support a sustainable economy based in part on recreation and enhance overall quality of life. Community life is centered on values of sustainability, health and shared prosperity. The natural world and people’s relationship with it is honored, celebrated and protected.
Core Programming and Campaigns
Oriented as an advocacy organization, our campaigns are designed to be nimble and responsive to threats and opportunities, while building power at every move.
Policy Development & Advocacy
WV Rivers is recognized as the flagship environmental policy organization in the state. We defend and promote protective policies and their applicability so as to maintain and improve water quality for the enjoyment and safe use. We do this through a combination of research, communication and activism.
Industrial Development Oversight
Our policy work promotes sensible laws, and our oversight program makes sure those laws are applied and enforced. We coordinate a citizen oversight and regulatory advisory program that trains and supports volunteer water quality monitors. These citizen scientists monitor water quality throughout the state for impacts from industrial development and natural gas infrastructure. We submit evidence of pollution events to relevant regulatory agencies and follow-up to ensure any violations are resolved. We pursue strategic litigation when agencies chronically fail to enforce laws. We conduct technical review and commenting on proposed permits, provide information to citizens, and facilitate citizen comments through the public comment process.
Safe Water for WV
We facilitate public involvement in protecting local drinking water supplies through source water protection initiatives. We work with public water utilities to identify and address contamination threats, with an emphasis on community engagement and risk reduction.
Public Lands Protection
Recognizing the important role our public lands play in headwaters protection and water quality, we coordinate the West Virginians for Public Lands alliance comprised of organizations, businesses and individuals working together to enhance and protect our public lands and waters.
In 2019, WV Rivers launched a climate action campaign to educate West Virginians on climate impacts and solutions. The campaign seeks to build public support for meaningful federal climate legislation.
Just Transition and Reclamation
In addressing the climate crisis, we recognize that West Virginia as a fossil fuel extraction state, will see fossil fuel workers and local/state economy disproportionately impacted in the transition to cleaner forms of energy production. We promote policies that provide the investments and programs necessary for a “just transition” for our workers and communities historically dependent on fossil fuel development, as well as address legacy environmental costs from extractive industries.
Regional-Scale Watershed Advocacy
We help build regional coalitions to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in the eastern part of the state, and the Ohio River Watershed in the west. WV Rivers serves as the state lead for the Choose Clean Water Coalition, a collection of over 200 organizations unified in advocating for local healthy watersheds for a fully restored Chesapeake Bay. We participate in multiple Ohio River Valley initiatives and coalitions, many newly formed to respond to the emerging threats posed by petrochemical expansion in the region. Our executive director currently serves as chair of the Watershed Organizations Advisory Committee to the Ohio River Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) comprised of governor appointees from the basin states.
How We Work
Over our thirty years, we have carved out unique functions in providing tools and support for environmental protection and movement building in West Virginia.
Research coordination. WV Rivers leads the WV Water Policy Workgroup, a “think tank” comprised of diverse experts on water quality issues and policies that guides our policy work. The Workgroup provides thorough analyses of current and proposed policies, researches and applies pertinent science-based responses.
Policy analysis and communication. We keep abreast of policy developments, collate data, package educational materials, relate key policy considerations to elected officials, and organize efforts to inform and engage the public in the policymaking process that impacts the quality of their local water resources.
Citizen education and action. We facilitate public participation in every aspect of policy decision making and work to ensure government transparency through the process. As our base of supporters continues to grow, we facilitate community action by organizing supporters to respond to proposed policies and equipping citizens to educate elected officials to act in the best interest of our natural resources.
Technical assistance and education. We provide technical assistance to concerned citizens, impacted communities, and allied organizations on the impact of industrial development on local waters. We serve as the liaison between regulatory agencies and impacted residents by helping citizens navigate the system to report concerns and obtain information and resources to ensure concerns are addressed. We compile reports of the impacts and share our findings with media, regulatory agencies, and policymakers to shed light on regulatory reform needs to better protect water resources.
Citizen oversight. We coordinate a network of over 200 trained and active volunteers to monitor water quality by providing technical assistance to volunteers, quality assurance and quality control of collected data, and analysis of data points and trends. We facilitate reporting of potential pollution events to the regulatory agencies and follow-up with inspectors to ensure the issues have been addressed.
Base-building. Through all of our campaigns and programming, we increase the awareness and grassroots action for policy priorities. We host community events and employ communications strategies to keep engage and cultivate new activists.