Do you drink water? Well, if you’re one of the 5 million people whose drinking water comes from the Ohio River, you should be doing everything you can to sway ORSANCO’s commissioners to continue to do their job.

For those who don’t know, ORSANCO (the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission) is considering giving up its responsibility to regulate the Ohio River. ORSANCO has existed since 1 948 to control pollution in the Ohio River Basin. With the progress of the Clean Water Act, some ORSANCO Commissioners believe their job is no longer necessary. However, there are nearly 200 pollutants ORSANCO regulates that the Clean Water Act doesn’t cover, and more than 200 pollutants which ORSANCO regulates more stringently than the Clean Water Act. We’ve seen what happens in places like Flint, Michigan when regulatory standards are loosened or ignored, and we don’t want that to happen here. Specifically, ORSANCO’s abdication of its responsibility would mean chemicals like Ammonia, Asbestos, Cyanide, E. Coli, Mercury, Strontium 90, and combined radium-226 and -228 would go unregulated or under regulated. These chemicals can cause sickness, cancer, and death, and without region-wide regulation, we become victims of whatever pollution is coming downriver to us.

With all of these public health reasons to maintain regulatory standards, who could be in favor of weakening them? Capitalists, of course. Specifically, corporate capitalists who dump shit in the Ohio River. Even though the Ohio River is already ranked as Most Polluted in the US, apparently that’s not dirty enough for companies like AK Steel, FirstEnergy, Alcoa, and Nucor Steel.

ORSANCO was expected to make its decision on October 4th; however, bowing to pressure, the Commissioners decided to punt until their next meeting, which is February 1 4th in Covington. Now, it all comes down to this meeting, right here, in our own backyard. There are a number of actions you can take to avert this potential crisis. First of all, you can spread the word among your network. The more people who know about this, the better.

Additionally, you can contact your ORSANCO commissioners. We can provide a table with the commissioners’ contact information upon request. You don’t need to say much, just a few sentences detailing how important clean water is to you.

The more commissioners you can contact, the greater the impact you have. If you have a minute, write your thoughts down and mail them to a Commissioner’s home – that should surprise them a little bit. Finally, a major way to have an impact is to show up at the public hearing on Thursday, February 14 at 9am at 10 East Rivercenter Boulevard, Covington, Kentucky, 41011 . There you’ll have a chance to tell the ORSANCO commissioners exactly what you think of their proposed deregulation. In preparation for the hearing, we’ll be putting out a call for DSA members in our network to come to the meeting; if you’ve got a couch or floor space they can crash on, it would be most appreciated.

This is going to take all of us, but I’m confident if we band together we can shut down their deregulatory agenda.