“Water Justice Summit” will engage Appalachians to protect clean water as a human right

For June 1 and 2, 2018

Photo copyright Lynn Willis.

On June 1 and 2, individuals from across Appalachia and the Southeast will gather in Blacksburg, Va., for the Water Justice Summit. The event is being organized by and for individuals fighting mountaintop removal coal mining, fracked-gas pipelines, and other industrial threats to streams, rivers and drinking water sources in their communities. The aim is to unite the many local, often isolated movements resisting polluting industries and negligent government entities under the common theme that water is a basic human right.

The summit will include trainings in water quality monitoring methodologies and tools for grassroots community organizing, a public reception of the “What Color is Water” art exhibit, and a keynote panel discussion entitled, “Mothers for Water Justice.” Participants are coming from Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Alabama.

In communities throughout Appalachia, the right to clean and accessible water is being violated or threatened. The potentially imminent construction of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines are widely expected to pollute surface waters and groundwater, among other environmental and economic problems. In West Virginia, Alpha Natural Resources’ mountaintop removal mines on Coal River Mountain have received numerous notices of violation by the state Department of Environment Protection for chronic sediment control failures and other impacts to nearby streams and communities. People across the Ohio Valley are facing tremendous impacts from fracking and other proposed natural gas infrastructure.

Lara Mack, Appalachian Voices, lara@appvoices.org, 540-246-9720
Willie Dodson, Appalachian Voices, willie@appvoices.org,276-870-5834

The press is invited to attend the events listed below:

What Color is Water art exhibit reception. This collaboration between Virginia Tech and community members is inspired by issues affecting water quality.
June 1, 5 pm – 7 pm, open to the public
Perspective Gallery, Squires Student Center at Virginia Tech
Remarks by Kawvol Hi’osik, indigenous water protector and leader in the Gila Indian Community

Mothers for Water Justice panel discussion
June 1, 7 pm – 9:30 pm, open to the public
Virginia Tech Graduate Life Center Multi-purpose Room

  • Mary Cromer, attorney with Appalachian Citizens Law Center representing communities whose water is threatened by strip-mining, and by neglected public infrastructure in Eastern Kentucky
  • Kwavol Hi’osik, community organizer for food sovereignty and water defense in the Gila Indian Community in so-called Arizona
  • Elise Keaton, attorney in southern W.Va., and activist with experience fighting mountaintop removal coal mining and fracked-gas infrastructure

The Water Justice Summit is supported by community partners:

  • Appalachian Voices
  • Alliance for Appalachia
  • Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights
  • Young Appalachian Patriots
  • Stay Together Appalachian Youth

And also by Virginia Tech partners:

  • Institute for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention
  • Appalachian Studies Department
  • Perspective Gallery
  • Gloria D. Smith Professorship in Africana Studies
  • Institute for Policy and Governance