Water Charity Spotlight: Waterkeeper Alliance

by wfnblog on December 16, 2011

As another expression of our core commitment to Improve Water and the World, WaterFilters.NET is lifting up the work of major water charities. Here is one of ten non-profits to which we recently contributed.

Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement of “on-the-water” advocates who patrol and guard over 100,000 miles of streams, rivers and coastlines in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The organization was founded in 1999 by environmental activist and attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and several veteran Waterkeepers.

Waterkeeper Alliance traces its origins to 1966 when commercial and recreational fishermen (many of them veterans) came together as an association to protect the Hudson River. These fishermen understood that their advocacy work as citizens was crucial to getting laws enforced and to ensuring their livelihood and their families’ health. They took on many of the nation’s biggest industrial polluters and won. In 1983, the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association hired the first full-time Hudson Riverkeeper to patrol the river, to restore its abundant fisheries and to lead citizen-based enforcement of environmental laws. Ever since, Hudson Riverkeeper has brought hundreds of polluters to justice, forcing them to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to restoring the health of the Hudson river basin. Their success sparked similar grassroots programs around the world, and in 1999 Waterkeeper Alliance was founded to support these programs.

Today, Waterkeeper Alliance is among the world’s fastest growing environmental organizations, with nearly 200 Waterkeepers patrolling rivers, lakes and coastal waterways on six continents. What unites the member organizations is a clear vision for stronger communities through clean water. To grow the movement, Waterkeeper Alliance has targeted efforts in Canada and the Amazon River Basin. There are also increased efforts in Mexico (eight member organizations), in India (with twelve) and across South America (with thirteen more). In 2008, environmental advocacy groups from Nepal and Bangladesh successfully applied to become the first Waterkeeper organizations in those countries. Waterkeeper Alliance aims to protect every major watershed around the world. Through ongoing outreach, they hope to collaborate with other national and international leaders in environmental and public health organizations. “From the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, the Amazon to the Ganges,” Waterkeeper Alliance has become a truly global network, speaking for the world’s waters.

Waterkeepers combine firsthand knowledge of their waterways with an unflinching commitment to the rights of their communities and to the rule of law. To follow through on that core commitment, they operate in a range of settings: on the waters searching out polluters, in the courts advocating for enforcement of environmental laws, in town squares rallying community support, and in classrooms educating children and youth. Waterkeepers defend their home communities from anyone who threatens their right to clean water. That includes both polluters who break existing laws and government agencies reluctant to enforce those laws.

Waterkeeper Alliance keeps Waterkeepers connected. The Alliance provides member organizations with legal, scientific and communications support, coordinating their voices in a united front as they take on major global water issues together. Waterkeeper Alliance provides a way for local communities to stand up for their right to clean water. Collectively, they speak out for the wise and equitable use of water resources. The vision of the Waterkeeper movement is “for fishable, swimmable and drinkable waterways worldwide” through grassroots advocacy.

Check out the charity’s website here.

Learn more about our Water Filters for Charity program here.

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