20 Years of Water Protection and Counting – Waterkeeper Alliance Targets Clean Water Growth Plan to Protect Waterways Worldwide


  • Network of clean water advocates protect more than 2.5 million square miles of waterways across globe to ensure clean drinking water and safe water access for nearly one billion people
  • In the U.S., water watchdogs are fighting EPA threats to the Clean Water Act that could decrease the number of waterways protected and limit citizens’ right to take action against pollution
  • Waterkeeper President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. joins global Waterkeeper leaders in call for continued protection of clean water on March 22 – in the U.S. and around the world

This year, Waterkeeper Alliance celebrates 20 years of connecting more than 300 locally based Waterkeeper groups worldwide to preserve and protect clean water. The organization has used legal action, community advocacy, education and more to continue fighting major water threats from challenging the coal industry’s toxic mercury emissions and coal ash waste to taking on big agriculture’s use of spray fields and lagoons for animal waste. Now, Waterkeeper Alliance announces its growth plan to protect 20 million square miles of waterways across the globe over the next 20 years.

“For two decades, Waterkeeper Alliance has used grassroots advocacy to protect people from big polluters and improve access to clean water,” Waterkeeper Alliance Executive Director Marc Yaggi said. “Today, our fight continues. We plan to protect 20 million square miles of waterways over the next 20 years.”

“As an environmentalist in Latin America, it is invaluable to know that I am not alone in my work,” said Margarita Diaz, Tijuana Waterkeeper. “Having a network of Waterkeepers from different countries and realities that encourage and inspire me keeps me effective and innovative in my local fight for clean water.”  

“Waterkeeper Alliance has helped support our local movement to protect the Cache la Poudre River of northern Colorado,” said Gary Wockner, the Poudre Waterkeeper. “Instead of fighting this battle in an isolated silo, we are now connected to a global network of passionate leaders who share legal support, financial support, and the inspiration of knowing that our waterways are worth saving, and in so doing we are also protecting our communities and our democracy.”

“Mobile Baykeeper has the challenging job of working with a conservative community that doesn’t always see the intrinsic link between a healthy environment and a thriving economy. Waterkeeper Alliance and the incredible Waterkeeper Organizations connect us to the laws, policies, and practices needed to ensure we can always swim, fish and play in Mobile Bay. Waterkeepers inspire me personally to stay on mission and ensure that our local work has a global effect,” said Casi Callaway, Mobile Baykeeper.

Current threat to waters across the globe

As threats to clean water emerge, Waterkeeper will continue its fight by focusing on major issues, such as:

  • Fighting pollution from industrial swine facilities to protect environmental justice communities in North Carolina.
  • Challenging federal rules for coal ash disposal to protect waterways and groundwater throughout the U.S.
  • Fighting large hydropower dams across the world which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, destroy aquatic ecosystems and displace communities.
  • Stopping the major threat of sewage in waterways throughout Latin America.
  • Opposing the Trump administration’s proposal for the new definition of waters of the United States (WOTUS).

According to Waterkeeper, the WOTUS definition rulemaking is the most far-reaching attack on the Clean Water Act—the cornerstone federal law protecting water quality in the United States and the model for environmental laws around the world. In December 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) proposed for a revised definition of WOTUS, delineating the scope of federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.

Join Waterkeeper Alliance in fighting for the heart of the Clean Water Act by filing a comment opposing the EPA’s ruling.

Taking a stand on World Water Day – March 22, 2019

For World Water Day on Friday, March 22, Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and members of the Waterkeeper Council, an elected group of Waterkeepers from around the world, will gather near New York Harbor to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary and encourage the public to support their growth plan and continued fight for clean water.

What’s next for Waterkeeper Alliance

As Waterkeeper Alliance continues to educate the masses on the most important clean water issues of our time, the organization has partnered with consumer goods companies including Toyota, Sperry and Banana Republic, as well as emerging global media giant, Culture Trip.

“We are grateful to these leading corporate citizens for partnering with us in the battle to save the globe’s waterways. Each of them has integrated clean water goals as a core value of their businesses. Each of them has proven treasured partners in engaging networks in our work. Our success at Waterkeeper Alliance has also been theirs,” said Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Culture Trip, the travel, media and entertainment start-up, has partnered with Waterkeeper Alliance to present the Waterkeeper Warriors project, which chronicles 20 Waterkeepers who have fought and won the most significant clean water battles of the past 20 years or face the greatest challenges of the future.

Local Culture Trip photographers have been dispatched to locations around the globe to capture the spirit of the Waterkeeper Warriors who are at the heart of a global movement that protects clean drinking water for nearly a billion people. The full body of work will be presented online and as a traveling photo exhibit that invites global citizens to discover the diversity of the world’s waterways, from Cambodia and Senegal to London and Peru, and the important role Waterkeeper Alliance plays in protecting them.

To follow along with the 20th anniversary, visit waterkeeper.org.

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Where the Waterkeeper movement began

In 1966, a band of blue-collar fishermen on New York’s Hudson River kickstarted the Waterkeeper movement because industrial polluters were destroying their way of life. Waterkeeper organizations started forming along the East Coast to fill this need for clean water protection. This group of water advocates banded together in 1999 to form the Waterkeeper Alliance as a way to unite the Waterkeepers while allowing the locally based organizations to fight pollution in their communities. For more information please visit: www.waterkeeper.org.


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org