March 16th, 2017 | Posted by Lee
Seriously?! NO Great Lakes Restoration funding, ZERO!
Page 42 of President’s budget plan released today “Eliminates funding for…Great Lakes Restoration Initiative”. This program has received bipartisan support in every budget since its inception in 2010. Over $130,000,000 has come to New York State to improve wetlands, fish habitat, invasive species detection and prevention, pollution abatement and other important projects that have created direct and indirect jobs, improving our environment and our economy. Over $6.4 million has been spent directly in the St. Lawrence River watershed.
Zero it out? Seriously. Decidedly. Outrageous!
It is just one part of the budget’s assault on programs that protect the water we depend on for our world-class fisheries, to sustain our recreation and tourism based economy, AND to drink!
Among many other programs cut or zeroed out is a Department of Agriculture program that assists communities with fewer than 10,000 people with water and sewer infrastructure.
It’s hard to imagine describing the St. Lawrence River as “great” if the water is no longer swimmable, fishable, or drinkable.
The President’s budget plan is chock full of disappointments for anyone who has benefitted from the last half century of progress the United States has made in air and water quality and human health.
Common sense tells us we have more to do to make sure every American has access to clean air and water, both basic human rights.
Instead for Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and our members and supporters, this budget is nothing less than a full on assault on the health of one of North America’s most important waterways and the people and communities that depend on it being and staying healthy.
Call the Congressional switchboard, (202) 224-3121, to connect with your Senators & Representative with the simple message “I support clean water programs – GLRI, revolving loan funds, & EPA”. Then call White House with same message (202) 456-1414 or (202) 456-1111.
Please also consider becoming a member of Save The River to strengthen our ability to fight for a healthy St. Lawrence River, now and for generations to come. Add your voice to thousands of others working to preserve, protect and restore one of the great rivers in North America.
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March 1st, 2017 | Posted by Lee
As the Riverkeeper for the St. Lawrence River, downstream of the 5 Great Lakes, drinking water for 40 million people, collector of human and industrial wastes from 8 states, we know full well the impact of the President’s order. And like the Waterkeeper Alliance and all freshwater groups in American, we will fight this.
From the Waterkeeper Alliance statement, “We also know that pollution flows downstream and poisons larger waterways used for drinking water, fishing, and recreation. This is why Congress passed the Clean Water Act more than 40 years ago — Waterkeeper Alliance will fight every effort to destroy these longstanding clean water protections.”
Full statement here, Waterkeeper Alliance Responds to Anti-Clean Water Executive Order
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February 25th, 2017 | Posted by admin
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February 20th, 2017 | Posted by Lee
It begins; What we are about to lose
Just confirmed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott “Pruitt told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that he expects to quickly withdraw both the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule, the Obama administration’s attempt at clarifying the EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.”
from an article by Natasha Geiling, in ThinkProgress
Graphic from the EPA website (for now): https://www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule
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January 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Lee
It was an honor to be asked to be a part of Watertown’s ‘Sister Rally’ held Saturday in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington and the hundreds of others held across the country. It was the beginning of a grassroots effort to remind the new administration and the new Congress that there is widespread support for a range of policies and programs the new President has expressed opposition to.
Although I was out of the area, Save The River supporter and volunteer Maria Purcell read my statement to the almost 300 participants from all over the River region and beyond*.
“The fact that the highest level appointees of the incoming administration have articulated a clear intention to minimize environmental protections in government decisionmaking is frightening. It threatens our very mission – the protection and restoration of the St. Lawrence River.
Access to clean water is the most fundamental human right. We are entering challenging times for many (if not all) social justice issues, within which we must include the right to clean – swimmable, fishable, drinkable – water.”
We are thankful that the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes and their tributaries have benefitted from decades of bipartisan cooperation at every level of government, from village, township, county, province and state to federal and international, by people of good will focused on restoring and protecting these waterbodies that hold 20% of the world’s fresh water and provide drinking water to millions. We cannot return to a time when they were viewed as resources to be consumed, dammed, diverted, filled and fouled.
The message Saturday was simple, we are watching and we will mobilize to protect hard fought and hard won victories for a clean St. Lawrence River now and for generations to come.
Save The River and the standing heron are registered trademarks. Riverkeeper is a registered trademark of the Waterkeeper® Alliance
- full text of statement
- the event organizers noted RSVPs from Watertown, Cape Vincent, Redwood, Potsdam, Canton, Fort Drum, Edwards, LaRay, Carthage, Clayton, Adams, Hounsfield, Rutland, Chaumont, Pulaski, Brownville, Sackets Harbor, Cranberry Lake, Antwerp, Rodman, West Carthage, DeKalb, Massena, Lowville, Plattsburgh, Waddington, Lorraine, Lyme, Ogdensburg, Alexandria Bay, Gouverneur, Bombay, Lyonsdale, Theresa, Diana and Watson (all in the River region) and Brentwood, Rochester, Staten Island, Hanover, Worthington, Ithaca, NY, Fresno, CA, Albuquerque, NM, and Bellmead, TX.
- media coverage of the event: Watertown Daily Times, 7 News Fox 28
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October 18th, 2016 | Posted by Lee
For over 50 years the St. Lawrence River has suffered under a destructive water levels management plan. On this 44th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, almost 20 years after the destruction of over 64,000 acres of wetlands habitat and the precipitous decline of species dependent on those wetlands was identified and more than 2 years after a plan to begin the restoration of those wetlands was referred to them by the International Joint Commission, the U.S. and Canadian federal governments still have not acted, and the St. Lawrence remains one of America’s most endangered rivers.
This is not right!
In June following American Rivers designating the St. Lawrence as one of America’s 10 most endangered rivers, we wrote about it on their website. At that point we and a broad coalition of groups and individuals supporting a modern plan for managing the River – Plan 2014 – had collected over 22,000 expressions of support for the plan. Now we have over 36,000.
Now is the time for our federal governments to act. Now before we reach any more anniversaries. Now before we lose any more wetlands and the species dependent on them.
It is time for #Plan2014Now!
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October 9th, 2016 | Posted by Lee
Join us in our work to protect, preserve and restore the St. Lawrence River now and for future generations.
We do this by educating children about the River, and how to live with and sustain it and the creatures that depend on it being healthy. And we work for policies that will protect it from invasive species, toxic chemicals and untreated waste dumping, microplastics and an outdated dam management plan that has decimated tens of thousands of acres of wetlands and species.
But to do it well and to reach even more children and adults and bring about meaningful policy change we need a community of members that is large, vocal and supportive.
We need you! Please join Save The River today and become a partner in our effort to pass on a healthy St. Lawrence River for generations to share.
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February 10th, 2016 | Posted by Lee
Originally published in the Thousand Islands Sun on February 3, 2016, from Lee Willbanks Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River executive director.
Clean, drinkable water is a basic human necessity. It is fundamental to the environment that sustains all human activity. Even so, for much of our history we have taken fresh, life-sustaining water for granted. In the vast St. Lawrence River watershed, blessed as it is with an abundance of clean water, threats to it have frequently seemed remote.
It is a sad irony, when the Thousand Islands stretch of the River is ranked as America’s number one archipelago, the River is recognized as a premier destination, and Clayton is chosen to host the 2016 Empire State Tourism Conference, that right in our backyard the fundamental ingredient in those accolades – fresh water – is under such a threat.
In the unfolding story of Flint, Michigan, and, closer to home, Hoosick Falls, we are witnessing the toll on a community when access to fresh water is compromised and government turns its back or is slow to mobilize. Much closer to home news reports have made a compelling case that this is happening in the Town of Orleans.
While the number of affected residents and businesses is small compared to Flint or even Hoosick Falls, it is clear that salt from a source other than the individual homeowners is in the groundwater. And it is there in high enough concentrations to cause serious health concerns – the introduction of lead from salt-caused corrosion foremost among them.
Corroded pipes and appliances are not within the mission of Save The River. Protection of the River, its tributaries and the people that live within its watershed from polluted water is. Montreal’s massive sewage dump opened our eyes to the equally massive amount of sewage entering our waters upstream. Algal blooms, dead zones in Lake Erie and the threat of oil transport on and around the River make it clear that threats to freshwater are not remote but right here right now. As Riverkeeper we join our community in the effort to protect it.
Whether the state is culpable or has just been inattentive is not the immediate issue in Orleans. Bringing the necessary resources to bear to solve the problem is. A state that can contemplate $100 billion in multi-year capital projects should be able to put together a funding package for the Town that gets clean, safe and affordable drinking water to its citizens. And it is imperative that it do so as soon as possible.
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December 10th, 2015 | Posted by Lee
Thank you so much and have a great Holiday Season!
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November 10th, 2015 | Posted by Lee
We have just heard that Montreal will start dumping raw sewage tonight, which is outrageous. It’s really hard to believe the City was able to meet the conditions imposed by Environment Canada so quickly. That is the fatal flaw in self-reporting as opposed to the prudent exercise of federal oversight.
Save The River encourages citizens to contact the mayor with opposition.
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