The Monongahela River, which has the potential to be a great feature of Morgantown, has become a huge eyesore and even bigger joke throughout the town and wherever else it flows. Once a great body of water for the region, now it’s been ranked as one of the most polluted rivers in the nation.

Ask anyone in Morgantown about their thoughts on the river and they’ll tell you that they’d never let that water touch their skin. The question poses itself: how did the Monongahela come to be one of the most contaminated rivers in the U.S., when Appalachia is supposed to be known for its great outdoors and beautiful landscapes?

In 2010 alone, the river was placed on an endangered list by an environmental group due to the high rates of natural gas extraction in the area. The same group issued a report stating that the cause of the Mon river’s pollution was, “from various activities, including both pre-regulation era and modern-day coal mining. ”

We’ve lived with these practices for too long, and now communities are really starting to feels the effects of it. Some say that it would even take a trillion dollars to fix the contaminated water situation in Appalachia.

But now Appalachians are starting to fight back—as they should—and make the people contaminating their water pay.

Dan River power plant, Duke Energy, Helicopter coal ash flyover,

For a long time, the plants that were dumping toxic waste into the surrounding water without consequence. Communities are starting to take a stance against this, seeking ways to place limits on the amount of pollution these plants are allowed to emit during particular seasons. It seems a little ridiculous we have to fight over the amount of toxic waste that corporations should be allowed to dump, but maybe that’s just me.

It’s time to start thinking more about the water around us, instead of just writing it off as a lost cause to the coal giants.

5 thoughts on “The Effects Of Coal In Our Own Backyards, Or Worse: Our Water

  1. I’m from Pittsburgh and our rivers aren’t much better. It’s sad to see rivers in such poor conditions. I don’t think we should neglect our rivers in the way that we do. They could be used for activities and fun if they weren’t so polluted.


  2. I haven’t really seen too much first hand of just how bad the river is, but for the past four years it’s all locals will talk about. But it totally makes sense and I wish ‘freshwater’ could really be fresh. I also never knew there was an endangered list for rivers, cause it’s not exactly like they can go extinct unless they dry up, which doesn’t really seem to be the problem. I guess just the quality of the life inside of the rivers is what’s at stake in that classification.


  3. I really like the tone of a lot of these posts, where you advocate action instead of, in your words, “writing it off as a lost cause.” It’s so easy to just look at the state of West Virginia and throw up your hands and decide there’s nothing you can do. It’s the last state I think of when it comes to a desire for environmental protection, since so much emphasis is placed on extraction industries like coal and natural gas — which are huge pollutants. But on a local level, we can really try to hold companies accountable for their environmental impact, and I think it’s great that you guys are showcasing that.


  4. It’s a real shame that the river is the way that it is. There are so many cities in the US, and especially here out east, that have rivers flow through them that are beautiful features. Even Pittsburgh, that has it’s own river issues, has some great spots in and around the city that make use of the water. In Morgantown, the river almost feels more like a hindrance than a feature.


  5. I’m from West Virginia more specifically Charleston and I remember when I was little we were tire swinging into it and my brother cut his foot open on trash that was in the Kanawha river. The colors of the West Virginia rivers vary but pretty much remain the same as far as variance (from brown to . green). Hopefully it will be clean again one day to show West Virginia is really wild and wonderful.


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