American Rivers hosts 6th annual River Action Day on Capitol Hill

River advocates from across the country stress need to protect clean water and prepare for climate impacts like floods and droughts

June 1st, 2009

<P>Amy Kober, 206-213-0330 x23</P>

Washington, DC —  River advocates from 25 states will join American Rivers tomorrow on Capitol Hill to send a strong message to Congress about the importance of healthy rivers to communities, and the need to strengthen and pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454) sponsored by Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA).  This will be the sixth annual River Action Day hosted by American Rivers.

The river advocates will stress that the climate change legislation must dedicate funding to a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Fund to protect and restore healthy rivers and other natural resources that provide clean drinking water, flood protection, and boost communities’ resilience to the impacts of climate change.

“Climate change is going to impact rivers and clean water first and worst, and we need to start preparing now,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “The best, most cost-effective way to protect our communities from increased floods, droughts and pollution is to invest in our natural defense system of healthy rivers, wetlands and floodplains.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) thanked River Action Day participants, who have traveled from as far away as Alaska to meet with their elected officials.

“I appreciate your dedication in traveling here to demonstrate your commitment to an issue that is fundamental to our lives,” said Congressman Blumenauer.  “Clean water is critical to our health and the livability of our communities.  In this era of climate change, the importance of healthy rivers couldn’t be greater. I applaud the leadership and advocates of American Rivers to protect and enhance our life-giving rivers. On behalf of communities across the nation, I thank you for your inspiring work.”

Healthy rivers provide a host of benefits and services to communities and are essential to our health, economy and quality of life. Healthy rivers:

  • Provide clean water during time of drought – 60% of Americans rely on healthy rivers, lakes, and streams to provide clean, safe drinking water
  • Absorb floodwaters during storms – One acre of restored wetlands can store up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater.
  • Improve the quality of life for future generations – Our rivers are part of our invaluable natural heritage.

The world’s leading climate authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, states that even with the most aggressive efforts to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, climate change will still have a profound impact on the planet. Rivers and freshwater will be hit particularly hard. Water supplies for drinking, agriculture, and municipal use will shrink. Drought-induced wildfires will increase. Flooding will become more frequent and severe, and the threat of waterborne diseases will rise.

“The climate bill would be incomplete without a commitment to provide increased dedicated funding to the Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Fund,” said Wodder.

“Communities across the country from Boston to Toledo to Seattle are already proving that when we work with nature, not against it, we can reap multiple public health, safety, and economic benefits. Now Congress needs to act to ensure every community has healthy rivers and other natural defenses in place so we can thrive in the face of climate change,” she said.

Since 2003, American Rivers’ River Action Day has provided a unique opportunity for river advocates from across the country to meet with their Members of Congress to discuss the value of healthy rivers to their communities. River Action Day has brought hundreds of concerned river advocates to Capitol Hill to press their elected officials to champion strong federal river conservation legislation.


About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

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