Buckhannon Riverfest


BUCKHANNON — The second annual Buckhannon Riverfest brought together organizations and people who share a passion for making sure our water is clean and safe.

Mayor David McCauley spoke about the City of Buckhannon’s efforts to protect the water supply and plan for the future.

“I think you are in good hands with the folks who run our water system in Buckhannon,” McCauley said. “In the spring, we added a $1.2 million gallon tank atop Victoria Hill. There are now two of those back there and that adds another 1 ½ to two days worth of water supply in the event of an emergency.”

Now the city water board and department are looking at water storage further out in the county.

“We are going to be developing a system of water towers where we will have raw water,” McCauley said. “In the event of some emergency that we have to not take water in from the river, we would have several additional days of raw water storage in these raw water storage tanks.”

Thirty-one years ago, a report by city engineer Sam Ludlow identified two to three billion gallons of water in abandoned mines in Southern Upshur County, according to the mayor.

“We are going to be looking at methods to purify that water so that in the event of a water emergency or drought, we could add another six months of water supply to our water system,” he said.

Held at the Elizabeth J. Poundstone Memorial Walk Trail, the all-day Riverfest featured music, outings on the river, children’s activities and more.

April Pierson-Keating, president of Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance, said, “We have quite a few people here enjoying the sun and music. We just had a water blessing and dance and that was amazing.”

A yoga class and hula hooping demonstrations were some other activities planned for the afternoon. Plenty of activities were also available for families and children.

“We have a DNR demonstration for kids to do rubbings of animal footprints and we show them pictures of animals,” Keating said. “The Tygart Valley Conservation District is here talking about what they are doing to protect water.”

One station allowed kids to see the lifecycle of trout through 16 different points and another showed kids how to separate recyclables.

The second annual Buckhannon Riverfest was a collaboration between MLPA, West Virginia Rivers, the City of Buckhannon and Upshur County governments.

“The overall purpose is to honor the water and appreciate the water and learn all about protection and conservation,” Keating said. “I was honored when the mayor came to speak as he did last year and I really think people are getting a good sense of how precious our water and how necessary to keep it clean for the good of everyone.”

Will Roboski led a group of area residents, Cole Griffin, Katie Hinkle, Sam Maxwell, Heather Schneider and Geoffrey Steel in a water dance.

“This is part of the second annual Buckhannon Riverfest and we wanted to have a way to honor the water and the life that we get from the water,” he said. “We wanted to create a piece that people could participate in and also watch. The theme of this dance is the value of water in our community and West Virginia and the power of purification.”

Roboski hopes to participate in a global water dance in 2019.

“There is an international organization called Global Water Dances,” he said. “They perform every two years and they select groups from around the world to perform the same day.”

Autumn Crowe, program director for West Virginia Rivers Coalition, said her organization was there to educate the public about safe drinking water, drinking water protection and promoting clean rivers.

“We are a state-wide advocacy group that works to protect our drinking water and make sure our rivers are fishable, swimmable and drinkable,” she said. “We work on both federal and state water policy. We try to keep our water quality standards as stringent as possible. We work with a lot of state agencies and water utilities to educate the public.”

That last piece of educating the public is what brought Crowe out Saturday.

“I think events like this are great because it gets people out to enjoy the rivers,” she said. “If they experience the river and enjoy it, they are more likely to protect it. It also brings the whole family out. If you are teaching kids at a young age the importance of water, than they are more likely to grow up making sure they are doing their part at protecting it.”

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