By: Waterkeeper Alliance
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper’s extraordinarily successful restoration of the Niagara River and its watershed was recognized in September in New Delhi, India with the Thiess International Riverprize.
The award, which comes with a $150,000 cash prize, was granted by the Australia-based International River Foundation at its annual Riversymposium. Each year the Riverprize, one of the world’s top environmental awards, recognizes a river system and the organization associated with it that has achieved outstanding results in sustainable river-basin management, restoration and protection.
Pointing to Riverkeeper’s work to revitalize the Buffalo River and envision and enhance the Niagara River Greenway, Mayor Paul Dyster of Niagara Falls saluted Riverkeeper as a deserving recipient of the award and “a shining example to their colleagues in the Great Lakes Region and beyond.”
Riverkeeper, which has been working for more than 25 years to improve the Niagara River watershed and the environment in neighboring communities, also won the inaugural North American Riverprize in May 2015. This achievement qualified the organization to be a finalist in the Thiess International Riverprize competition.
The Thiess International Riverprize was first awarded in 1999.
Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, said that the recognition by the International RiverFoundation demonstrates the global importance of the Great Lakes Basin and the surrounding region in the struggle to protect and restore waterways.
“We are humbled and grateful for this recognition,” she said. “ This honor is dependent upon and shared with our entire community, and is a testament to the decades of civic engagement by our innovative staff and board, dedicated partners and other individuals. This is a proud moment for our organization and community, as we have put the Buffalo Niagara region on the global map as a model for water-resource protection and transformation.”
The work of restoring and protecting the Niagara River watershed, including the massive Buffalo River restoration, began in 1989 as a volunteer-based, grassroots effort. Riverkeeper galvanized the undertaking through large-scale volunteer programs, civic engagement in clean water advocacy, water-based education programs and ecosystem planning and restoration. The challenges tackled over the years have included cleaning up toxic sediment, eliminating sewage overflows, restoring critical habitat, and advocating for the long-term health of the Great Lakes.
“Today,” added Jedlicka, “the Buffalo Niagara region once again sees the Great Lakes and access to fresh water as a major component of regional economic revitalization.”