It’s not just Chattanooga. The Volunteer State’s 6.7 million residents rely on the state’s 60,000-plus miles of rivers, streams, aquifers, and groundwater for drinking water, commerce, power generation, and unparalleled outdoor recreation. But in the past 100 years or so, the relationship with our waters has shifted, and become one of more take than give. It’s easy to forget the connection of the river to the tap. And as we slowly lose that mutualism and the ideal that whatever happens to the water happens to the people, we begin to suffer as well.
The more we alter our waterways and harm them with pollution, the more it costs to make them safe again. Many communities that once thrived off our waters are now being poisoned by them. And in many cases, there is a disproportionate burden on those who are the least responsible and least able to fix things. If this feels unfair and overwhelming, well, it can be. But there are creative and exciting solutions to these issues, driven by collective hope and action, and we invite you to learn more at our largest annual fundraiser, Save Water, Drink Wine, celebrating the ideals of community and stewardship while sharing local food and beverages.
When you purchase your tickets for Save Water, Drink Wine, you’re supporting WaterWays’ mission of empowering kids and their communities to protect and restore their water where they live, work and play. But it’s more than that. You’re supporting imagination, wonder, and exploration through our Stream Team programs. You’re providing nets, magnifying glasses, and boots. Every dollar that comes through our doors is an opportunity to make positive, lasting change. It flows into the installation of wetlands, the adoption of local creeks, and the restoration of abandoned mine lands on Signal Mountain. It brings the otters back to Mountain Creek. Ultimately, the benefits flow back to you.
WaterWays (formerly Caribbean and TenneSEA) was founded and directed by Mary Beth Sutton. Although the name has changed, the mission has not. WaterWays protects and preserves watersheds in the Caribbean and in Tennessee through collaborative projects. “Pollution from automobiles, factories, and agriculture has infiltrated our waterways, and litter and sediment have clogged our streams. This is detrimental to the health of the aquatic organisms that inhabit the waterways, and ultimately the humans who depend on it. At WaterWays, we believe that every individual has the power and responsibility to be a steward of their environment,” explained Sutton.
We invite you to the Barn Nursery on the evening of February 8 to get a more intimate look at some of our local watersheds, with advocates from partnering organizations sharing their love of the unique history and ecology in each area. This year the six featured watersheds include Mountain Creek, Lookout Creek, North Chickamauga Creek, Citico Creek, South Chickamauga Creek, and the Caribbean Basin (along with WaterWays’ efforts in the Southeastern U.S., we still operate in the Caribbean as Caribbean Student Environmental Alliance). Of course, six watershed learning stations mean six wine stations, thanks in part to Athens Distributing and Panoram Imports. As always, the wines will be perfectly paired with appetizers from Chattanooga area favorites including Conga, Mike’s Hole in the Wall, and Dish T’Pass. We are also honoring our longtime friend and sponsor, Neville Forsythe, with a rum-tasting at the Caribbean station. Many Chattanoogans knew Neville and his wife Marilyn from Mrs. B’s Reggae Café on Broad Street, which has since closed after Neville’s passing this year. This year’s Save Water, Drink Wine will also offer a station serving local beer for the non-wine drinkers.
This event would not be possible without the generosity of many sponsors, including Tennessee American Water Company, Barge Design Solutions, WK Dickson, Propex, Hamilton County Stormwater Program, Tennessee Aquarium, Lupi’s Pizzas, and the City of Chattanooga Water Quality Program. “Hamilton County’s Water Quality program works hand-in-hand with WaterWays because we both have the same mission of promoting public involvement in the stewardship of the local water environment,” said program manager Crystal Bishop. “Teaming up with Save Water, Drink Wine is just one of the ways we work to provide education on the importance of water quality to the environment and the public health.”
The annual event will once again feature the popular silent auction, focusing on local artisans. Also back by popular demand is our blind wine tasting - a chance for the true wine connoisseur to test his or her skills to win a wine-themed grand prize (last year it was a flight to Napa!), sponsored by Virgola wine bar.
In addition to a fun-filled evening, our ultimate goal is that you leave with a deeper understanding of the beauty and magic that surrounds us in the Southeast, and a feeling of pride and stewardship in that. We encourage connections through thoughtful conversations and shared experiences, bringing communities together with the time-honored tradition of food, drink, and fun! With your support, we can make lasting change where it matters most. See you there!
Early Bird tickets to this fundraiser are currently available for $50 per ticket on Eventbrite, at The Barn Nursery, or The Gear Closet. For more information about WaterWays, visit: https://mywaterways.org/.
by Lillian Moore