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Non-profit to train clean water advocates

Hot summer days lure many Virginians to cool streams, rivers and lakes.
Sandy Hausman
Hot summer days lure many Virginians to cool streams, rivers and lakes.

This summer’s extreme heat is prompting some people to seek relief in local lakes, rivers and streams, but with stories of forever chemicals, toxic algae blooms and e-coli in the news, others may be reluctant. Now, a Virginia non-profit is offering to train people to share their concerns.

“A lot of people really want to get involved, but they’re apprehensive," says Wild Virginia's David Sligh. "People say, ‘Well, I’m not a lawyer or a scientist. What do I have to offer?’”

But he thinks the number one credential to take part in public comment periods is caring.

“You don’t have to have a college degree. The main requirement is that you have enthusiasm to speak up and to look out for yourself and your community.”

And his group is offering a free training program online. It requires about two hours a week for nine weeks to learn the ins and outs of making your views known.

“How to write a comment letter to an agency. How to get involved in public hearings. How to ask for information and get it," Sligh explains. "It’s a combination of some background information that makes them feel more comfortable with getting involved and then some tools to actually do it.”

Wild Virginia will also notify participants when there are opportunities to weigh in and host online office hours to advise on local matters that might concern participants.

“Anything from a development project in your backyard to a wastewater or industrial discharge on a stream that you care about -- just about any kind of project that the government has regulatory review over.”

Last year they trained ten people, and this year they had planned to include 15, but they’ve already received more than 20 requests to take part. The deadline to apply through the Wild Virginia website is Friday, July 12th.

For more information go to https://wildvirginia.org/wild-virginia-clean-water-advocates-program/

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief