This is the tenth and final blog in a series featuring rivers of the Southeast endangered by toxic coal ash pollution. The rest of the series can be found here. Many thanks to all the Riverkeepers who helped with our series.
“Rivers run through our history and folklore, and link us as a people. They nourish and refresh us and provide a home for dazzling varieties of fish, wildlife, trees, and plants of every sort. We are a nation rich in rivers.”
-North Carolina Native Charles Kuralt, from The Magic of Rivers
For me, this quote pretty much says it all; rivers are vital resources that sustain our communities and so much more. It’s easy to forget just how much we depend on rivers–they provide fresh water for drinking and agriculture, sustenance, shipping routes, economic activity, natural beauty, recreation, and (much to their detriment) electricity and a means to dispose of all manner of waste.
Since the industrial revolution, we’ve dumped some pretty horrible things into rivers: making them unsafe to swim in, eat from and causing species to go extinct. We’ve come along way, thanks to better regulations like the Clean Water Act and an evolving appreciation that rivers are valuable ecological, economic and cultural assets. Rivers are bouncing back, but we still have a long way to go. As long as billions of gallons of toxic coal ash are stored along riverbanks across the nation, our rivers will remain endangered and imperiled.
Wherever you live in the Southeast, chances are there’s a river nearby that’s threatened by toxic coal ash. Here’s a list of rivers that we featured throughout the summer during this blog series – find yours!
- Catawba River
- Black Warrior River
- French Broad River
- Waccamaw River
- Appalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin
- Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin
- Savannah River
- Tennessee River
There’s plenty you can do to raise awareness about the issue of coal ash and celebrate rivers as the precious resources they are. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Learn more about coal ash and if your river is threatened at www.SoutheastCoalAsh.org.
2. Tell the EPA to swiftly approve strong Coal Plant Water Pollution Standards – an important piece of the puzzle in controlling coal ash pollution. Send your comments now and ask the EPA to stop coal ash pollution on all rivers nationwide. Ask others to do the same using this short link on social media: http://bit.ly/CoalH20
3. Get involved with your local Riverkeeper or Waterkeeper. These organizations are leading the charge to protect our rivers from toxic coal ash and are also concerned with getting people out on and connecting with the river. Go to an event, volunteer, or donate today.
4. Be acquainted with your river. If you don’t already spend time on or near your river; take a stroll on a riverfront park, have a picnic with your family on the banks or go tubing or rafting with friends. I promise you’ll have fun and encourage others to do the same!
5. Talk to others about coal ash and your river — that means friends, family, coworkers, your representatives, local government officials. Write a letter to the editor. Share what you learn and what your river means to you!
Most importantly, become an active part of protecting waterways near you!