“The mountaineer takes the same pride in his water supply as the rich man in his wine cellar, and is in this respect a connoisseur. None but the purest and coldest of freestone will satisfy him.”
– Horace Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders
All the available water on Earth has existed in one form or another for millenia, continuously recycled through our atmosphere. Just like the air we breathe, it is required for simple survival– the human body can not live without drinking water for more than three to ten days.
In Appalachia, water sustains a diverse spectrum of plant and animal species and—as the source of major east coast rivers—provides drinking water to millions of Americans. It has shaped our mountains for eons, and continues still today. Spectacular waterfalls, rushing streams and winding rivers constitute major recreational and scenic attractions in Appalachia.
Mountaintop removal coal mining is having an irreparable impact on Appalachian waterways. Coal companies have buried a staggering 2,000 miles of freshwater streams in Appalachia in order to mine coal. Coal sludge, a toxic byproduct of separating coal from other rock, is held in massive impoundments held back by unregulated dams and leaking endangers local water tables and community drinking water.
The burning and disposal of coal in power plants results in dangerous amounts of mercury ending up in our waterways, resulting in thousands of children born each year with learning disabilities and other neurological disorders. In addition, the disposal of coal ash waste—a substance generated during the burning process—creates serious water pollution problems with other heavy metals in highly concentrated levels.
What We Are Doing About It
Appalachian Voices is committed to protecting Appalachian waterways from the biggest sources of pollution. We believe clean water is an important part of Appalachian heritage, and support federal and state legislation that protects our region’s waterways, mountains, and communities.