American Rivers releases annual Endangered Rivers report, Potomac tops list

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America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2012:
#1: Potomac River (MD, VA, PA, WV, DC)
Threat: Pollution
At stake: Clean water and public health

#2: Green River (WY, UT, CO)
Threat: Water withdrawals
At stake: Recreation opportunities and fish and wildlife habitat

#3: Chattahoochee River (GA)
Threat: New dams and reservoirs
At stake: Clean water and healthy fisheries

#4: Missouri River (IA, KS, MO, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY)
Threat: Outdated flood management
At stake: Public safety

#5: Hoback River (WY)
Threat: Natural gas development
At stake: Clean water and world-class fish and wildlife

#6: Grand River (OH)
Threat: Natural gas development
At stake: Clean water and public health

#7: South Fork Skykomish River (WA)
Threat: New dam
At stake: Habitat and recreation

#8: Crystal River (CO)
Threat: Dams and water diversions
At stake: Fish, wildlife, and recreation

#9: Coal River (WV)
Threat: Mountaintop removal coal mining
At stake: Clean water and public health

#10: Kansas River (KS)
Threat: Sand and gravel dredging
At stake: Public health and wildlife habitat

WASHINGTON, DC, May 19, 2012 -- With Congress considering drastic cuts to national clean water protections, and rivers nationwide facing threats from natural gas drilling, pollution, and new dams, American Rivers has released its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers®.

American Rivers named the Potomac River, known as 'the nation's river' as it flows through the capital, the most endangered in the country. While the Potomac is cleaner than it used to be, the river is still threatened by urban and agricultural pollution -- and it could get much worse if Congress rolls back critical clean water safeguards.

As our country commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, the Potomac is emblematic of what's at stake for rivers nationwide. American Rivers launched a national call to action, giving citizens the opportunity to contact members of Congress and speak up for clean water.

"This year's Most Endangered Rivers list underscores how important clean water is to our drinking water, health, and economy," said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers. "If Congress slashes clean water protections, more Americans will get sick and communities and businesses will suffer. We simply cannot afford to go back to a time when the Potomac and rivers nationwide were too polluted and dangerous to use."

Before the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972, the Potomac was a cesspool of sewage and industrial pollution. Thanks to the Clean Water Act, the Potomac and rivers across the country are cleaner and safer for drinking, boating, and fishing. But the Potomac is still suffering -- a University of Maryland report card has given the river a "D" grade for water quality for the past two years.

"The Clean Water Act is the reason the Potomac River is no longer called a 'national disgrace.' Most of the palpable problems are gone; however, there are many emerging threats that can't be seen. Residents of the Washington D.C. metro area -- including the President and Congress -- need to realize they are composed mostly of Potomac river water and they need to protect and enforce the laws that safeguard their health," said Ed Merrifield, President of Potomac Riverkeeper.

"We need strong federal leadership as we redouble our efforts at the local level to achieve the goal of a healthy, clean Potomac," said Hedrick Belin, President of the Potomac Conservancy. "We look forward to partnering with American Rivers, Potomac Riverkeeper, and others to continue to make progress cleaning up the Nation's River. This regional treasure contributes so much to our community's quality of life, and our neighborhoods deserve healthy, clean streams and creeks."

"When members of Congress fill a glass of water or drink their morning coffee, that water comes from the Potomac River. It's time to draw the clear connections between healthy rivers, drinking water, and public health in Washington, DC, and in communities nationwide," said Irvin.

American Rivers called on Congress to kill any legislation that weakens the Clean Water Act or prevents the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from restoring protections for small streams and wetlands under the Act. American Rivers also called on the Obama Administration to finalize guidance clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act and issue a rule-making to ensure that all waters get the protections Americans expect and deserve.

Now in its 27th year, the annual America's Most Endangered Rivers® report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers' fates. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.

For the fourth consecutive year, America's Most Endangered Rivers is sponsored by The Orvis Company, which donates 5% of their pre-tax profits annually to protect nature.

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