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Exploring The Mighty Ohio River Inside Appalachia

It’s easy to take the water coming out of your faucet for granted, but tragedies like the Elk River Chemical spill that left thousands of residents in West Virginia's capital city without water for days have put tap water front and center.

Appalachia is no stranger to water contamination, especially in places with a history of heavy industry, like the Ohio River Valley. But as a large source of drinking water, how do we know it’s safe?

For this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, reporters and producers at West Virginia Public Broadcasting teamed up with The Allegheny Front to take a closer look at what's going on along the banks of the “Mighty Ohio” in a series called Headwaters.

We explore C8, a chemical used in Teflon that has managed to stick around in the Ohio River long after factories like DuPont phased them out. We hear how, in a convoluted way, the Ohio River’s vulnerability to spills has made it one of the most protected rivers in the country

We also hear a consultant and a scientist tell The Allegheny Front why they think the Allegheny River could play a huge role in local economies - if it were re-imagined

Finally, we play What’s in a Name. Listen and see if you can guess which town in Appalachia is named after an explosive chemical!

This episode was produced by Inside Appalachia and The Allegheny Front. Music in today’s show was provided by Dinosaur Burps, Ben Townsend, Marisa Anderson, Zach Byrd and the Western Ave. String Band. Our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William with “Johnson Ridge Special” from their Album Songs of a Tradition. Catherine Moore was our editor this week. Roxy Todd helped produce this episode.  Jesse Wright is our executive producer. 


Jessica can be heard on Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Morning the station’s daily radio news program. You can reach her at jlilly@wvpublic.org
Roxy Todd is a reporter and producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.