CINCINNATI, OH (WOWK) – A new report has named the Ohio river “America’s second-most endangered river of 2023.” Now, a coalition is using that report to call on Congress to address the issue.

Ohio River Way, a regional coalition of more than 100 communities and organizations based along the Ohio River, says national nonprofit American Rivers made the designation, which comes just over two months after the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment, which sent chemicals into the air, waterways and soil surrounding the area. Some of the chemicals that spilled into the water traveled down stream and into the Ohio River.

According to Ohio River Way officials, the American Rivers report cited threats to the Ohio River watershed such as municipal, agricultural and industrial pollution from activities such as mining, chemical production, energy development and “durable goods manufacturing.” The Ohio River Way says these issues are occurring despite marked improvements that have been made since the Clean Water Act of 1972 was enacted.

“This pollution is dangerous not only because of its effects on the Ohio River’s diverse ecosystems, but because the Ohio is the source of drinking water for more than five million people,” Ohio River Way officials said in a press release.

The organization says that as some areas of the region near the Ohio River have transitioned their economies away from resource extraction and manufacturing, they have lost their “economic engines” and need state and federal support to rebuild their sustainable foundations

“We see this designation as a call to action for our elected officials. Together we must acknowledge and address the many challenges that face this incredible resource and the millions of people who rely on the Ohio for drinking water, jobs, recreation and simple quality of life,” said Brewster Rhoads, Chair of the Ohio River Way.

Officials with Ohio River Way say they are now calling on Congress to fund a “basin-wide restoration plan” to fix the issues that caused the river to receive this designation.

This includes calling on elected officials to designate the Ohio River as a federally-protected water system and providing significant sustained funding, as outlined in the Ohio River Basin Alliance’s restoration plan. The Ohio River Way also says funding to the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission should be increased to fund technical upgrades to their monitoring system and increase staff capacity.

The organization is also suggesting officials at all levels, local through federal should invest in recreation infrastructure such as boat ramps, parks and trails.

“The Ohio is truly one of the most amazing resources in the country,” said Dr. David Wicks, Vice Chair of the Ohio River Way. “The river has played a significant role in the development of our country and its economy. It is time we made the investments necessary to restore, preserve and protect the Ohio for generations to come.”