Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC) received a $25,000 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) environmental justice small grant. Only 46 were issued nationwide.
"We feel extremely fortunate to be the only organization in West Virginia to receive an Environmental Justice award this year," said Sarah Veselka, FODC executive director. "We'll be using this funding to launch a Watershed Bill of Rights media campaign to educate citizens about their rights to clean water and how to protect it.
"We'll also be training and equipping volunteers to monitor local streams every other week," she added.
In addition, FODC will work with other area agencies and businesses to host community symposiums about the potential environmental impacts of Marcellus shale natural-gas drilling. Any group wishing to partner for a symposium can contact FODC, she said.
The citizen scientist monitoring program will provide participants with training and equipment to monitor local streams for potential pollutants related to the extraction of natural gas, Veselka said, as well as how to submit this data to a central online database.
Project volunteer training will begin in the spring.
For questions about the Watershed Bill of Rights project or to become a citizen stream monitor: 304-292-3970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FODC's long-term goal is to use this project as a pilot study to launch the Watershed Bill of Rights statewide, she said.
Through the Watershed Bill of Rights, the group wants to protect the Deckers Creek and surrounding watersheds by preventing, reducing and/or eliminating water pollution through education.