WV Rivers Coalition Hosts Sierra Ferrell

The Charleston Cultural Center was witness to a sold-out crowd to acknowledge and recognize the ten year anniversary of the Elk River chemical spill.

The elk river chemical spill was one of the most tragic events in the mountain states history, affecting the drinking water of over three hundred thousand West Virginians, but that tragedy had a silver lining.

“It was also this very hopeful time, too, where people were looking at one another and saying, we have to work together and we can make this happen. They were distributing bottled water out to their neighbors or people with uncontaminated, uncontaminated water were opening up their houses to let people in and give them water access. So it was really this moment where people came together and said, you know, we we are fighting for this and we need one another. We can’t do this alone. And I think tonight is just another acknowledgment to show how true that continues to be today,” said Maria Russo, the clean water campaign coordinator.

That truth is highlighted even more when stars such as Sierra Ferrell come to support the cause.

“And so we feel so honored that so many groups recognize that and are here in that fight with us and just saying, yeah, we can have a good time while we’re doing this, but we know what’s important and we’re going to make sure we can secure it for communities across West Virginia and beyond,” said Maria Russo, the clean water campaign coordinator.

Securing clean water and healthy living for communities in the mountain state is vital, as the effects of natural resource exploitation are seen, felt, and dealt with every single day.

“I’ve lived my whole life of watching my friends and my family and my neighbors get sick and die because of what these coal operators are doing, because of how they destroy our environment, because of how they contaminate our drinking water and everything else. And I’m tired of it,” said Junior Walk, a permit monitor for the Coal River Mountain Watch.

As more and more people stand up to these companies, the organizations want to see those who are exploiting this state be shut down.

“The only way to really fix these issues that we face here in southern West Virginia in relation to the coal industry or exploit the exploitation of our natural resources in general, is to shut them down, you know, to force these people who are exploiting our people and our natural environment to not be doing that anymore. And that’s something that, you know, the people over here at the state capitol that go to work at gold dome every day, they won’t make that decision because that’s filling their pocket, that’s getting them fat, that sends their kids to school,” said Junior Walk.

This work is more important now than ever because of the unique geographical position West Virginia is in.

“So everything that happens downstream, we impact that here in West Virginia. And I think that’s so important for us to remember because any activity we do or if we’re harming the waters, people downstream are going to feel those impacts. And so we want to just be good neighbors and be responsible partners in this to make sure that we’re doing everything we can upstream to protect everybody of where the water flows beyond here,” said Maria Russo.

To help our rivers be wild and wonderful, check out what the West Virginia rivers coalition and the coal river mountain watch are up to.

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