River Voices

by Heather Deck

As I look ahead to 2018, I am excited about what is to come. While our rivers face tremendous challenges due to the actions of those currently in positions of power and authority, I am inspired by the response from our members and communities. It will take all our voices in the coming year to stem the tide of deregulation, cuts to our natural resource agencies, and the growing influence that polluters are building in Washington DC.

Your support of Sound Rivers has never been more critical. At all levels of government we are seeing an assault on the protections that support a healthy environment. At the federal level, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt recently announced that science advisory panels will include mostly scientists from industry. These panels will also no longer allow any scientist that receives federal funding to serve, including many renowned university researchers who conduct research on behalf of the public good. Time and again we’ve seen this administration side with industry over their own EPA scientists, making decisions that will likely harm our water resources, environment, and public health.

In North Carolina, we’ve witnessed the erosion of clean water protections with years of regulatory rollbacks and funding cuts. For example, the state’s stormwater program employs 28 people for the entire state to cover 25,000 permits and projects! That means each individual is responsible for over 900 stormwater permits or projects per year. The permits are supposed to ensure that our #1 source of pollution, stormwater runoff, is managed properly. With staffing levels so low, it’s apparent that the agency is unable to perform its duties.

This is why the work of our Riverkeepers is so critically important. With our state agencies undermanned and underfunded, it is the Riverkeepers that provide the necessary eyes and ears on our rivers and in our communities to ensure that our environmental laws are followed and polluters are held accountable. In addition, our Program Director is forging new partnerships, both in the private and public sectors, so solve our most pressing environmental needs for the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico Rivers.

As 2017 closes, I look forward with anticipation to the New Year. And each year, I, like many others, contemplate my New Year’s resolutions. The work is never easy, but such challenges have never stopped us before. So I wanted to share with you my New Year’s resolutions and I hope you consider a few of your own that help support Cleaner Water!

  • Get out on the river!
    • Get my family out on the river more in 2018. It’s time for my 4- and 6-year olds to learn how to kayak! And it’s always important to immerse ourselves in our region’s amazing landscapes. By experiencing them, we are reminded why we need to protect them.
  • Walk the walk
    • Volunteer my time and provide financial support for those causes that support a clean water future. I will work to limit my store purchases to those with a lower water footprint. Things we spend our time and money on matter. And of course, donate to Sound Rivers – we’re paying attention and we’re ready to fight with you for a better water future.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak out
      • Now, more than ever, our elected officials and appointed administrators need to hear from you. The examples I noted above are stark reminders of why our laws allow for and encourage citizen involvement. Your voice matters; don’t be afraid to call, send an email or letter to let them know a healthy future is a clean water future. Together we can make a difference in 2018! 

From all of us at Sound Rivers, we wish you and yours the most happiest of holidays!