On January 19, 2016 a crowd of over 250 students, professors, and community members gathered for the West Virginia Clean Water Conference hosted by West Virginia Wesleyan College and the Buckhannon River Watershed Association from 7 to 9:30 PM. Filmmaker Mike Youngren's documentary, "Elk River Blues," explained how a chemical used to clean coal spilled into the Elk River, near Charleston, WV, and contaminated the drinking water for 300,000 people in nine counties in 2014. Even the Governor of West Virginia, Earl Ray Tomblin, couldn't use the tap water at the Governor's Manison to drink, cook, bathe, or do laundry for approximately 15 days. President Obama declared a Federal State of Emergency and members of the National Guard delivered bottles of water after an area shortage. Recent events in Flint, Michigan highlighted the importance of civic participation in the protection of clean drinking water in local communities.
In addition to Wesleyan College faculty, a variety of experts helped answer questions at the event including the WV Rivers Coalition, WV Sierra Club, Friends of the Cheat, Mountain Lake Preservation Alliance, the WV Department of Environmental Protection, the City of Buckhannon Water Plant, and the US Fish and Wildlfie Service.
Conference attendees were personally invited by City of Buckhannon Water Plant Supervisor, Tom Landis, to attend Water Board Meetings, especially those that concern the "Source Water Protection Act." In addition, local environmental groups encouraged people to sign up for a variety of local volunteer projects.