A new report can serve as a catalyst for federal action to restore and protect the Ohio River and the communities that depend on it, according to organizations that have been working to address environmental concerns in the 14-state Ohio River basin. The report, released today by national non-profit American Rivers, Iists the Ohio River as one of the most endangered rivers in the country due to pollution and lack of federal investment.
The American Rivers report comes amid a growing movement to restore and protect the Ohio River and its connected waters in the 14-state region that includes Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
For the past nine months, groups on this release have been hosting community listening sessions organized by the National Wildlife Federation to hear from residents in cities and towns about their water concerns. Feedback from the more than 25 sessions is informing a regional restoration and protection plan written under the leadership of the Ohio River Basin Alliance, as well as Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and National Wildlife Federation. The plan will be delivered to Congress and Biden Administration in late 2023, with the goal of securing funding to implement the plan. Every year, Congress supports the restoration of the nation’s great waters, including the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf Coast, and others. The Ohio River basin currently does not receive funding.
“We thank American Rivers for shining a light on this important river and important region of the country,” the groups said. “The report can be a catalyst to heal our waters and to heal our communities. Millions of people depend on the Ohio River and its connected waters for their drinking water. Unfortunately, serious problems such as sewage contamination, toxic pollution, invasive species, runoff pollution, and flooding threaten our drinking water, public health, economy, and quality of life.
“The good news is that there are solutions to address these challenges and to help the communities that have been most impacted by pollution and environmental harm. We remain committed to advancing a bold and visionary restoration and protection action plan that benefits our environment and our economy – an action plan that protects our drinking water, safeguards our public health, confronts environmental injustices, promotes recreational opportunities, creates good-paying jobs, supports strong local economies, and provides a brighter future for young people in our communities.
“Together, we can tackle the challenges facing our water resources. Together, we can make a difference. And together, we can ensure that every person has access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water. We look forward to working with members of Congress and the Biden Administration to elevate Ohio River restoration and protection as a national priority. We have solutions, and it is time to use them, before the problems get worse and more expensive to solve.”
Signatories to the statement include the Black Appalachia Coalition, Carbondale United (Ill.), Concerned Citizens of Martin County (Ky.), Friends of the Cheat (W.Va.), Friends of the Tug Fork River (W.Va./Ky.), Groundwork Ohio River Valley (Ohio), Izaak Walton League of America, Harry Enstrom Chapter (Pa.), Kentucky Riverkeeper, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Men of Power Women of Strength (Ill.), Mill Creek Alliance (Ohio), National Road Heritage Corridor (Pa.), National Wildlife Federation, Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, Ohio River Basin Alliance, Ohio River Foundation, Ohio River Way, Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory, University of Pittsburgh, River City Paddle Sports (Ky.), Rural Action (Ohio), Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Network, Urban Green Lab (Tenn.), Urban Kind Institute (Pa.), and West Virginia Rivers Coalition.
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