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Watch Jason Flickner talk about our campaign against mercury rising in the Ohio River on KyGREENtv. Visit our website to learn more or to take action by submitting your comment to ORSANCO.

The comment periods ends on Septemebr 3rd. Please take action now to protect the Ohio River!

Where will you be at 4 pm tomorrow? I’ll be at the Galt House working to defeat a proposed rule change that could allow more mercury and other toxins to be discharged into the Ohio River. Please come and join me!

According to the Environment America Research and Policy Center, the Ohio River is victim to more toxic pollution than any other river in the United States.

ORSANCO – A multi-state organization that sets water quality standards in the Ohio – might weaken rules that could allow more mercury and other toxins into the river. ORSANCO is considering a proposal to weaken standards that would give polluters the right to continue to dump mercury and other toxins in quantities greater than EPA deems safe.

Mercury is a dangerous toxin – well known to cause brain and nervous system damage in fetuses, infants, and children destroying cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, motor and visual skills.

Demand that ORSANCO protect our families by keeping the rules that restrict mercury pollution in the Ohio River! Attend the informational workshop tomorrow in Louisville to learn more about the proposed changes.

When? Wednesday, July 21 from 4 – 7 pm

Where? Galt House (Jones Room), 140 N. 4th Street, Louisville, KY

For more information or to submit a comment visit our web site, here or go to ORSANCO’s web site, here.


Join us to paddle and clean-up the beautiful Green River near Greensburg.

Please consider joining us on Saturday, July 24th, at The American Legion Park in Greensburg Kentucky as we “roll down the river” to “Clean the Green!” Kentucky’s Green River is the fourth most biologically diverse river in the nation – truly a precious jewel – and we want to keep it that way for future generations.

Participants will receive a FREE T-shirt, boat rental, personal water bottle, and lunch prepared by the Greensburg’s Cattlemen’s Association. Following the clean-up, we will celebrate in the park where there will be refreshments, educational booths, live bluegrass music by “The Foster Children“, and door prizes – including a Perception Carolina 140 kayak with paddle and vest!

RSVP to our Membership Coordinator: Kelly@KWAlliance.org, so she can reserve a canoe for you. Or, bring your own!

WHAT: “Clean the Green” River Fest
WHEN: Saturday, July 24th from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST (8 am – 11 am CST)
WHERE: American Legion Park in Greensburg

For more information see the flyer on our website, here – and help spread the word to your friends.

Proposed Changes to ORSANCO’s Pollution Control Standards Could Allow More Mercury Pollution in the Ohio River

Stop by and visit Kentucky Waterways Alliance table at the Forecastle Festival this weekend and help us send a message that we don’t want changes adopted that could allow more mercury and other toxins in the Ohio River!

Proposed changes to current pollution control standards for the Ohio River could allow greater amounts of mercury entering a river that already receives more toxic pollution than any other in the nation. The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), a multi-state compact that recommends standards for the river’s water quality, is considering changes that would give polluters the right to request increasing the amounts of mercury and other toxins they discharge into the river.

Tests conducted by ORSANCO reveal over 800 miles of the Ohio River is currently polluted for mercury and a recent survey claimed over 13 million pounds of Ohio River fish are consumed every year by the public.

“ORSANCO’s own data shows the Ohio is at a tipping point for mercury. At the same time, millions of people are using the river for recreation and eating fish from the river every year,”said Jason Flickner, Kentucky Waterways Alliance water resources program director. “Why don’t Ohio Valley residents deserve the same protections from a destructive toxic chemical as the rest of the country? The Ohio should not be allowed to be degraded at the expense of our children’s health and future generations. ORSANCO should seriously rethink the message this proposed change sends to the public and make the decision to protect public health.”

Jason will be at Forcecastle all day on Sunday but KWA will have staff or volunteers available for most of the Festival. Stop by our table or visit our web site and find out what you can do to help STOP Mercury Rising in the Ohio River!

River City Canoe & Kayak holding benefit sale this weekend!

River City Canoe & Kayak in Louisville, Kentucky will be holding a benefit sale the weekend of June 26th and 27th for Kentucky Waterways Alliance. Customers will receive 10% off on all apparel and footwear merchandise with a further 10% of apparel and footwear sales going directly to KWA to help them in their mission to protect the waterways of the Bluegrass state.

Owner, Doug Davis, says, “There was no hesitation for us at all when it came to partnering with and holding a benefit for Kentucky Waterways Alliance. Everything we do, kayaking or canoeing, revolves around having clean water to do it in. KWA has time and again demonstrated their commitment to protecting our greatest natural resource in the Bluegrass state.”

Please head down to 814 Cherokee Rd. on Saturday (9 am – 8 pm) or Sunday, 12 pm – 6 pm and take advantage of this sale – and help support KWA as well! Questions? Call 502-384-3737.

Many thanks to Doug.

A victory for Appalachian Residents – and Mountain Streams

Yesterday, the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced the suspension of Nationwide Permit 21 (NWP 21), the general permit that allows the dumping of waste from mountaintop removal and other surface coal mining into Appalachian streams. Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Kentucky Riverkeeper, and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth have challenged the Corps use of this permit since 2002.

The suspension will go into effect immediately. It affects surface coal mines in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.

It’s ironic that just a few short years ago, the Corps was auguring in court that our case had no merit. In a clear abuse of power the judge in our case delayed ruling for years – then because the streams had already been destroyed and the permit was up for renewal ruled our case was moot. We appealed and the judge agreed to not dismiss the case – he waited another year – and then again ruled the case was moot!

That makes this decision by the Corps to suspend the use of this permit gratifying. It will mean a healthier future for all those living in Appalachian communities, because it forces coal companies to apply for an individual permit. At least with an individual permit, there is more environmental review required, and the people and communities who will be impacted by the mining activity have an opportunity to review and comment on the permit.

The Corps states that the decision to suspend the use of NWP 21 was made after an extensive review that determined, “the practices allowed under NWP 21 were too destructive to the Appalachian region.” Well duh – that’s exactly what we argued in court way back in 2002!

In any case, at least some of the injustices forced on the people who live in Appalachia may be reduced or eliminated. It always amazed me that in America – in 2010 – a government agency permitted coal companies to fill streams, destroying peoples water and contributing to flooding – all without even giving people public notice or the opportunity to comment on the permits.

If you want to learn more about our Kentucky Waterways Alliance long battle to end this destructive practice – or our other work to protect rivers and streams – please visit our web site by clicking here www.KWAlliance.org.

I started out writing this blog to urge folks to travel 1 hour south of Louisville to my home county and volunteer to help clean up the Green River this Saturday, June 19th. The Green River is a beautiful river – a national treasure right here in Kentucky being the 4th most biologically diverse river in the U.S.

Yet, as I sat down to write I recalled there are at least two other major river clean-ups this weekend. The Kentucky River Sweep is on June 19th. Now in it’s 19th year, the Kentucky River sweep mobilizes volunteers in several counties to help clean the river.

For folks in Louisville and elsewhere along the Ohio River, this weekend is also the Ohio River Sweep. The Ohio River Sweep will bring people together from Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, IL on both sides of the river to help clean it up.

All events are Saturday, June 19th.

Green River Fest and Cleanup – Thelma Stovall Park, Munfordville, KY (I-65, exit 65, go about 2 miles south on 31W to the Park.) You must call and reserve a canoe (270-774-7883) or go online to www.bigbuffalocrossing.com Volunteers receive a free canoe ride, trash bags, free lunch, T-shirt and chances on prizes. There will also be music in the Park. Volunteers should plan to arrive at the Park by 8 am central time on Saturday.

Kentucky River Sweep – contact Sue Elliston at the Kentucky River Authority, at 859-527-3356 or sue.elliston@ky.gov for information on the following counties or on other counties participating.

  • Fayette County – gather at the Clays Ferry Boat Dock off Ky. 25 beneath the I-75 overpass at 8:30 am eastern time. Volunteers will receive a free breakfast and lunch, T-shirt, gloves and trash bags. Boats are needed.
  • Clark and Madison Counties – call 859-745-7415 (Clark) or 859-624-4709 (Madison) for more information. The sweep is scheduled from 9 am – 2 pm eastern time. Volunteers receive a T-shirt, trash bags and a free lunch.

Ohio River Sweep – Visit ORSANCO’s website to learn more or contact Jeanne Ison at jison@orsanco.org or call 1-800-359-3977.

Turns out this weekend there are many opportunities to do your part and help keep a river beautiful for future generations to enjoy! So no matter where you live in Kentucky, if you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend – why not volunteer to help clean up a river or stream? And remember – no matter which river clean-up you participate in – bring along plenty of water, sunscreen, and insect repellent!

If you’re in Louisville today and looking for a great place to eat lunch or dinner, why not come to Flanagan’s on 934 Baxter for the Monday FUNDay benefiting Kentucky Waterways Alliance? KWA staff will be there from 11 a.m. to midnight to tell you all about the good work we’re doing to protect and restore Kentucky’s most precious resource – our rivers, lakes, and streams.

So, come join us! Eat, drink, and be merry…all for clean water in Kentucky!

PS. You can call and order carry-out box lunches too.

KWA held a victory today when the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet decided to re-open proceedings on the Cash Creek coal-fired energy plant’s wastewater permit. The case was reopened thanks in large part to the public’s concerns that pollution from the plant would allow unnecessary new pollution into the Green River. Read an article, KWA & Allies Act to Protect the Green River from Toxic Pollution, about the case in the April 2010 issue of Newstreams.

The proposed plant would have discharged millions of gallons of polluted waste into the river every day. KWA along with the Sierra Club and Valley Watch moved against the permit claiming it failed to control dangerous toxic pollution going into the river, or even to consider whether the facility should be built at all – two requirements that must be met in order to issue new permits in the state. Read more here.

This permit is the perfect example of why we all at Kentucky Waterways Alliance have been working for a decade to force the state to write permits that provide better protections from water pollution. Had the plant moved forward with the approved permit, the Green River would have been victim to unmonitored, uncontrolled, and UNNECESSARY pollutants. Read more about our antidegradation work – or how we’re making sure Kentucky’s cleanest waterways are kept clean!

Everyone has another chance to protect the Green River as the state prepares to hold a new public hearing on the plant sometime this summer. We need your voice! Keep checking my blog and the KWA website to find out how you can take action for one of the most biologically diverse rivers in the state.

KWA and our allies recently celebrated in April when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the side of people affected by the devastation of mountaintop removal and surface coal mining. Read more here.

Guided by a growing body of evidence that shows this form of coal extraction is harmful to our waterways and communities, EPA proposed water quality standards that will prohibit most valley fills associated with this method of removing coal.

The evidence pointed specifically to conductivity in our streams. From the EPA website: Conductivity is useful as a general measure of stream water quality. Each stream tends to have a relatively constant range of conductivity that, once established, can be used as a baseline for comparison with regular conductivity measurements. Significant changes in conductivity could then be an indicator that a discharge or some other source of pollution has entered a stream.

What does this mean in KY?

Eastern Kentucky University recently issued a report called, “Conductivity trends in Appalachian Kentucky headwater basins: Results from a citizen science diagnostic assessment of watershed health.” The report summarizes conductivity readings from more than 1,600 streams in eastern Kentucky. Of the samples taken at or near mine sites only 373 or 22.9% were considered “safe” – or below the threshold EPA flagged as a concern. The final revised version is now available online.

Despite the new rules and the evidence in this report, several permits for these types of coal mining sites were recently issued by the state. KY is disregarding the new EPA standard and the evidence that shows valley fills are ruining our waterways and communities. The state should be using these new regulations to protect our Appalachian streams and communities. We hope the state does the right thing and listens to the new evidence to protect our streams and those living near and downstream from them.

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