Yadkin Riverkeeper Makes River Network’s 2010 Top River Protection Stories

In its first-ever list of Top River Protection Stories, The national River Network highlights what they consider the top river success stories from around the country for 2010. We recently learned that when the report is issued later this week our fight for the Yadkin River will be on the list!

River Network compiled the current list to recognize the important work being done by groups like Yadkin Riverkeeper to inspire others to continue their efforts to protect American’s rivers and ensure clean water for future generations.    

According to Yadkin Riverkeeper, Dean Naujoks, “This national recognition for our work on the Yadkin demonstrates the importance of the great work Waterkeepers are doing around the world to protect our water resources. We’re honored to be included in this list of key victories for clean water.”

From the Report: North Carolina: Helping a River Breathe
Anything that lives in a river needs oxygen just like we do. Along the Yadkin River in North Carolina, Alcoa's four dams have been suffocating river life downstream by discharging oxygen-poor waters from their reservoirs for years during the summer months. In early December, river restoration advocates gained a huge legal victory when the state of North Carolina revoked the Clean Water Act certification that the dam operators needed in order to renew their FERC license for the next 50 years. During litigation initiated by the Yadkin Riverkeeper (and Stanly County), e-mail evidence and testimony from Alcoa representatives and DWQ staff demonstrated that the company had withheld information showing that proposed dam upgrades would not be able to meet water quality standards for dissolved oxygen. DWQ then acted to revoke the certification.

Watch for the complete report to be posted to the YRK news section as soon as it's made available.

2010: The Yadkin Riverkeeper Year In Review

As we wrap up 2010, we extend our gratitude to everyone who has joined us in our efforts to protect the Yadkin River. To re-cap, we’ve compiled the following list of the 2010’s major clean water initiatives along with our goals for 2011.

WE WON! Yadkin Riverkeeper prevailed in our legal case when the state revoked Alcoa’s 401 Water Quality Certification on 12/1.  Our victory for the Yadkin River made national news, significantly raising the profile of this important natural resource. Our victory is critical to addressing major environmental and public health issues linked to Alcoa, and this reversal will provide Governor Perdue’s office time to make its case for recapture before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

 • Our grassroots and advocacy campaign combined with our highly publicized Erin Brockovich event assisted in the passage of HB 972, which created the Uwharrie Regional Resource Commission (URRC) “to pursue the equitable distribution of water…through water control, job creation, and protection of natural resources.” The creation of URRC and the passage of HB 972 has national precedent setting implications, in that HB 972 “gives the Commission the power to own and hold the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project’s recaptured assets,” to return the project and the Yadkin River to the people of North Carolina. Recapture provisions championed by President Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot over 100 years ago could take effect on the Yadkin River for the first time in U.S. history since the creation of the 1920 Federal Power Act.

 • In Surry County, Yadkin Riverkeeper partnered with citizen groups, local business and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League to defeat plans to build the Fibrowatt poultry waste incinerator on the Yadkin River located in the heart of wine country, which would have produced more air pollution than a coal fired power plant.

 • Yadkin Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks completed the first “Tour de Yadkin” earlier this year by paddling the entire Yadkin River, bringing attention to the scenic beauty of the river, the importance of the Yadkin as the life blood of the region, and the numerous threats impacting the health of the river, while encouraging action and on-the-water recreation.

 • Related to this, YRK was instrumental in creating a multi-media website called “The Yadkin River Story.” The Yadkin River Story (www.yadkinriverstory.org) features beautiful photography combined with compelling personal stories of people who utilize the Yadkin River for baptisms, swimming, and agriculture while also conveying a strong ethic of river stewardship.

Yadkin Riverkeeper's Goals for 2011

Tour de Yadkin 2011 – During the month of April, Yadkin Riverkeeper will paddle 193 miles of the Yadkin River, inviting the general public to participate in numerous paddling opportunities (working with local outfitters), attend educational fireside chats, bluegrass celebrations at local vineyards and other on-the-water activities.  Also planned during Tour de Yadkin is the launch of YRK’s participation in the statewide program “Operation Medicine Cabinet.”

 • Operation Medicine Cabinet (OMC) is a collaborative effort launched statewide, partnering NC Riverkeepers with local law enforcement and other organizations to raise awareness of and take action against the harmful practice of pharmaceutical flushing/dumping. Through this program, our goal is to change the way North Carolinians dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medications and ultimately create policy change in Raleigh regarding this issue. NC’s waters are particularly vulnerable to impacts from pharmaceutical contamination. Studies have linked reproductive problems and lowered immune response in fish and frogs to pharmaceutical hormone exposure. In a nationwide study the occurrence of intersex fish was most prevalent (91% of largemouth bass) in the lower Yadkin Pee Dee watershed.

 • In 2011, YRK will launch a Yadkin River Mapping Tool which will be integrated into our new website and provide an interactive map to encourage ecotourism opportunities in the region, such as paddling, hiking, camping, and greenways, and share information regarding food, lodging, and local vineyards and additional attractions in local communities along the river basin.

 • YRK continues to pursue Clean Water Act legal enforcement actions against Alcoa to address vital water quality improvements and require clean up of PCB’s, cyanide, PAH’s and other contamination linked to 90 years of Alcoa’s toxic aluminum production.

 • In conjunction with NC Riverkeepers and other partners, YRK will continue to address the state’s number one water pollution issue – sediment runoff. Through the collaboration of our partners in the Muddy Water Watch (MWW) program, we’ll work to strengthen the NC General Permit to limit water quality impacts from polluted runoff from over 15,000 construction sites across the state.  

 • Due to the overwhelming interest and response we received from the Erin Brockovich event in 2010, YRK is excited to share the news that the keynote speaker for our 2011 Annual Meeting will be Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on October 13th!  Stay Tuned!

In closing, thank you for your interest and support of Yadin Riverkeeper in 2010. Yadkin Riverkeeper will continue to work tirelessly on a variety of issues to at the local, state and federal level to ensure clean water for future generations.

 Happy Holidays,

Zoe Gamble Hanes, President
Yadkin Riverkeeper