Ohio River Basin Alliance Responds To Listing Of Ohio River As America's 2nd Most Endangered River In The Nation; Lehigh River On The List Too

On April 18, the nonprofit American Rivers named the Ohio River to American Rivers Most Endangered Rivers list as the second most endangered river in the country.

Each year, American Rivers releases this report to highlight rivers that are at a crossroads - those that face a tipping point that could significantly shape the future of the river and region.

The Ohio River starts at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in Pittsburgh.  The western third of the Commonwealth contributes water to the Ohio River.

The Lehigh River in Pennsylvania was also included on this year’s Most Endangered Rivers list.

In response to the listing, the Ohio River Basin Alliance released this statement--

Despite decades of improvement through policy, regulation, and partnerships with community and business leaders in the Ohio River Basin, the designation of the Ohio River as endangered comes from remaining and sustained threats to human, ecosystem and community health.

These threats are in part from a lack of sufficient and sustained federal and state investment.

These threats include a legacy of toxic chemical discharges, bacteria impairment, nutrient pollution, mine waste, and other serious problems.

Release of the report falls on the heels of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment that sparked national media coverage and renewed political attention to the region and the critical role the Ohio River has in the heartland.

The Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBA)—a voluntary collaborative of over 200 organizations that provides a forum for addressing water resource issues in the Ohio River Basin—is highlighting this designation of the Ohio River as one of the Nation’s most endangered rivers to order to raise awareness of the value of the river’s resources and raise awareness of the need for federal funding in the Ohio River watershed.

The federal government invests hundreds of millions of dollars each year to restore and protect the great waters of our country such as the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and Gulf Coast, among others. ORBA’s primary goal is to have Congress recognize the Ohio River Basin as threatened and deserving of sustained funding.

The Ohio River has made tremendous progress through the processes of both The Safe Drinking Water Act and The Clean Water Act.

It features rich ecosystems, ample opportunities for recreation, shared culture, and investment in local economy and communities. There is more work to be done and vital federal resources are needed to sustain this work.

ORBA is overseeing a process with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) to craft a visionary plan to restore and protect the waters of the 14 state region in the Ohio River Basin.

Addressing the 10 million people in the basin, including the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, who rely on the Ohio River for drinking water.

The plan will offer a “blueprint” for federal action, including designation of the Ohio River as a protected water system that receives significant, sustained federal investment.

“ORBA member organizations and members care deeply for the Ohio River Basin and are working very hard with our partners to bring critical federal resources to the region to improve the lives of millions of people that live within the basin,” says Craig Butler, Chairperson of ORBA.

To protect the safety of drinking water for people who depend on the river for their source of drinking water, ORSANCO requires robust, sustained funding for technical upgrades to their monitoring system and increases to staff capacity.

This will support long term monitoring efforts, technical expertise, and immediate disaster response.

Federal investment in the restoration and protection of the Ohio River Basin will support the ecological well-being of the river, create ample recreation opportunities, safeguard public health, and improve and invest in the overall quality of life for communities throughout the watershed.

Federal investment is also crucial to upgrading ORSANCO’s river monitoring equipment, which is used to safeguard drinking water supplies and ensure disaster preparedness through routine monitoring. 

ORSANCO is an interstate pollution control agency for the Ohio River that works on behalf of eight signatory member states to improve water quality through monitoring, assessment, and public information programs that ensure the Ohio River is safe for recreation, drinking and industrial supplies.

ORSANCO’s programs also ensure that the river can support a healthy and diverse aquatic habitat.

The Ohio River unifies 30 million people across 14 states and includes roughly 60 Congressional Districts.

As part of ORBA’s restoration plan, the organization is calling on US Representatives in these districts to join the Ohio River Basin Caucus and to advocate for federal investments in the Ohio River Basin.

Additionally, ORBA is urging citizens of the Ohio River Basin to share widely within their constituencies this opportunity to uplift local voices to the Ohio River Caucus to let them know they should work to secure these federal investments.

“The American Rivers report is a timely reminder of how important the waters of the Ohio River Basin are to millions of people in our 14-state region. As co-chairs of the Ohio River Congressional Caucus, we understand there are urgent threats to our environment and economy that need to be addressed, and we look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress to ensure that Ohio River restoration and protection is a national priority so that we can protect our drinking water, public health, jobs, and economy,” said Congressmen Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Morgan McGarvey (D-KY).

The American Rivers designation of the Ohio River as the second most endangered river in America leverages the Ohio River Basin as a catalyst to both grow a strong regional movement of NGOs, as well as unite and galvanize the Ohio River Congressional Caucus, the body that ultimately must embrace and champion the need for federal investments and lead the implementation of a federal Ohio River restoration program.

To protect the Ohio River and the millions who depend on it, ORBA along with local partners, and residents in the Ohio River Valley, with support from American Rivers, are calling on Congress.

The federal government must designate the river as a protected water system and commit to significant, sustained federal funding for both the Ohio River Basin Alliance Restoration Plan and technical upgrades for the river monitoring equipment of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission.

The Ohio River Basin Alliance was founded in 2009 to provide a unified voice for the priorities of the region - a need identified by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and ORSANCO.

ORBA’s main goals, on behalf of its 500 members and over 200 organizations, are to facilitate Ohio River Basin stakeholder collaboration, inform elected officials on critical issues related to sustainable economic growth and wise management of our natural resources, and facilitate coordination and delivery of projects to address Ohio River Basin priorities.

To learn more, visit the Ohio River Basin Alliance webpage.

Resource Link:

-- American Rivers: Lehigh And Ohio Rivers Listed In America’s 10 Most Endangered Rivers


-- The Allegheny Front: Ohio River Ranks 2nd On America’s Most Endangered List By American Rivers Group

-- MCall: Lehigh River Named One Of 10 Most Endangered In Country; Warehouses And Poor Planning Blamed In Report

-- Pocono Record: Warehouse Growth Puts PA’s Lehigh River On Most Endangered List

-- Inquirer - Frank Kummer: Lehigh River Listed As ‘Most Endangered’ River In U.S. Due To Rampant Warehouse Developments

Related Article:

-- Ohio River Basin Alliance, ORSANCO Host Congressional Day On The Hill June 13 To Educate Members Of Congress On Needs Of Ohio River Basin

NewsClips This Week- Watersheds:

-- Stroud Water Research Center Partner Walt Moore, Chester County, Named PA Distinguished Dairy Producer

-- Philadelphia Water Dept. Recognizes Stormwater Pioneers For Best Stormwater Management On Private Property

-- Indiana Gazette: Blackleggs Creek Mine Drainage Cleanup, Trout Nursery Initiative

-- USDA Announces $18.3 Million In Funding For Clean Water Infrastructure To Protect Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Delaware River Basin

Related Articles This Week - Watersheds:

-- DEP EE Newsletter: Winners Of 2022 PA Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience Awards Announced; Other Environmental Ed News  [PaEN]

-- Bucks County Master Watershed Steward Jim Walter Inspires Environmental Action  [PaEN]

-- Brodhead Watershed Assn. StreamWatch Volunteer Training May 20 In Monroe County  [PaEN]

-- Allegheny County Conservation District Now Accepting Applications For Agricultural Conservation Assistance Grants; Your County Is Too  [PaEN]

-- CBF: Proposed Settlement Of Lawsuit Against EPA For Failing To Hold Pennsylvania Accountable For Meeting Chesapeake Bay Water Pollution Reduction Goals Focuses On Actions In 7 PA Counties  [PaEN]

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission May 4 Hearing On Water Withdrawal Projects, Including 12 Related To Shale Natural Gas Drilling  [PaEN]

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Approved 39 Water Use Permits For Shale Gas Well Drilling Pads In Bradford, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming Counties  [PaEN]

-- Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper Blog: Significantly Lower Water Flow May Have Long-Ranging Ripple Effect For Aquatic Resources, Recreational Use - By John Zaktansky, Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper [PaEN]

-- Citizen Complaint Results In Discovery Of An Unreported Crude Oil Spill Affecting Over 2,400 Feet Of Stream At A Cameron Energy Conventional Well Site In Forest County  [PaEN]

-- Ohio River Basin Alliance Responds To Listing Of Ohio River As America's 2nd Most Endangered River In The Nation; Lehigh River On List Too  [PaEN]

[Posted: April 18, 2024]


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