Letter to Membership from Board President 8/27/14

Over the past six years, YRK has grown from a grassroots, start-up organization to one that has achieved nationally recognized success in the fight for clean and safe water.

In recognition of our efforts, Yadkin Riverkeeper was awarded the NC Wildlife Foundation Governor’s Award for “Water Conservation Organization of the Year” in 2011; and our campaign against Alcoa has been recognized as one of the “Top 25 Clean Water Stories” by River Network. Even with these victories, however, we still have an uphill battle against the polluters of North Carolina’s waters and we are going to need your continued support to protect and defend our river.

As a result of your dedication and generosity, we are excited to announce that we are growing to meet this challenge! Over the coming months, we will be recruiting and hiring both an Executive Director and a new Riverkeeper. We want to take this moment to thank our founding Riverkeeper, Dean Naujoks, for his incredible contribution to our organization and community over the past six years. We wish Dean the best with his future path and we look forward to continuing to build upon his record as we fight to protect and preserve the health of one of North Carolina’s most significant river basins. 

Below please find, outlined for you, updates on each of the major campaigns and programs that Yadkin Riverkeeper effectively champions on a daily basis. We have wonderful partners in Waterkeeper Alliance and River Network, as well as exceptional pro bono legal representation from the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic and the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Because of your support, we have built a strong organization. Looking forward, our focus is building our infrastructure and adding even more expertise to our organization. We have already begun the search for a new Riverkeeper and we are looking globally for a champion who is willing to take on some of the world’s biggest polluters and their massive infrastructure. This is not a job for the faint of heart.

We need your support now, more than ever. We hope that you will be part of the next exciting phase of our journey. We are very grateful for your past generosity and hope you will continue to support our successful programs and important advocacy efforts that are having a direct impact on the more than 730,000 people who depend on the river for fishable, swimmable, drinkable water.

Thank you for your support, and we hope to see you at Clean Water Weekend, September 26th – 28th, 2014! (Everyone who donates $100 or more will receive a special gift at Clean Water Weekend!)

Sincerely,

Liz Bozeman
President, Board of Directors

Yadkin Riverkeeper Major Campaigns and Programs

ALCOA

  • Currently Yadkin Riverkeeper continues to work closely with Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic who have donated more than 2,700 hours to this monumental campaign against Alcoa to ensure cleanup of Alcoa’s toxic legacy in Badin, NC and champion against another 50 year license. Many members of the Badin community, specifically, West Badin, are working toward a common goal of holding Alcoa responsible for cleanup of its toxic legacy in their neighborhoods, as well as laying the ground work to be placed on the EPA Superfund site list. This community continues to inspire us and we are proud to continue to work alongside them!

CITY OF THOMASVILLE AND MONROE BYPASS

  • YRK worked with Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) to reach a settlement agreement with the City of Thomasville to resolve our Clean Water Act citizen lawsuit after numerous, sizeable discharges of wastewater from its collection system flowed into tributaries of the Yadkin River and High Rock Lake.  The proposed settlement requires the City to take actions that will improve its wastewater system and address causes of its wastewater spills. 
  • SELC also represents YRK and other major partners against the Monroe Bypass as proposed by the NCDOT and NC Turnpike Authority, citing misinformation and misrepresentation of the environmental impacts were the project to go forward.  Because of this concerted effort, the Fourth Circuit Court labeled the Department’s analysis of the Monroe Bypass as a “fundamental blunder” and chastised the agency for misrepresenting the project’s impact.   The judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state to go back and make an honest disclosure.  SELC continues to represent us as we fight for full disclosure and the negative environmental impacts of the proposed bypass are shared with the citizens of Union County.

DUKE ENERGY AND COAL ASH

  • YRK is proud to be able to fight alongside, and in partnership with, other clean water advocates in pursuit of forcing Duke Energy to clean up ALL of its coal ash ponds, including those located at the retired Buck Power Station in Rowan County in the Yadkin River basin, as well as, insisting legislators enact a comprehensive coal ash bill to include ALL 14 Duke Energy coal ash sites, and not just the proposed 4.  The retired Buck Power Station coal ash pits are unlined and community residents are coming together to ensure Duke Energy is held accountable for contamination, not only to the Yadkin River, but their well water supplies.  YRK continues to work with our environmental partners, SELC, Waterkeeper Alliance and community members as we fight for clean water and a comprehensive cleanup strategy for ALL coal ash sites across North Carolina.

PURE FARMS/PURE WATER CAMPAIGN– Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s)

  • YRK will continue to work in conjunction with Waterkeeper Alliance in order to eliminate water pollution from CAFO’s and ensure that regulatory standards are consistent with state and federal laws, including the Clean Water Act of 1972.  Yadkin Riverkeeper will continue to monitor unpermitted discharges from CAFO’s facilities; conduct aerial, ground and water surveillance of uncovered waste piles, and continue to work within the communities affected by this industry to raise awareness of this important issue.  In addition, Yadkin Riverkeeper will continue to investigate these discharges as they relate to the Nutrient Management Strategy of High Rock Lake.

FRACKING

  • The NC State Legislature lifted the moratorium on fracking earlier this year and Yadkin Riverkeeper has been working tirelessly with conservation groups across the state to raise awareness on the dangers of fracking and how it could impact the Yadkin River.

PROGRAMS

  • Annually, more than 4.2 million people learn about the river through education, advocacy and outreach.
  • River clean-up programs have removed more than 5,000 pounds of trash from the river.
  • Operation Medicine Cabinet programs collected 6,151 pounds of unused medicine from 4,000 people, in keeping unused pharmaceuticals out of our water supply.
  • More than 1,700 paddlers participated in the Tour de Yadkin, an annual event that invites paddlers to join the Riverkeeper and paddle the entire 165 miles of the river each June.

Our next big event is an exciting one! As we host the 1st Annual Clean Water Weekend from September 26th to 28th. We are honored to have been selected as a host site for the largest environmental film festival of its kind in the nation – the WILD & SCENIC FILM FESTIVAL ON TOUR.  Tickets go on sale on August 15th at YadkinRiverkeeper.org

(And register to participate in our World Rivers Day Clean-up on Sunday, September 28th in Elkin).