20 Years of Clean Water Wins - Waterkeeper
waterkeeper alliance 20th anniversary

Today, on World Water Day, I can’t help but reflect on the billions of people around the world without access to clean and safe water. But there’s a path toward achieving the United Nations’ 2030 goal of universal, equitable access to safe, affordable drinking water. That path: Strengthening and growing local leaders equipped with tools to meet their communities’ need for clean and safe water.

For 20 years, Waterkeeper Alliance has grown and connected a global network of grassroots activists with one shared vision: drinkable, fishable, swimmable water everywhere. Since our founding in 1999, we collectively work to safeguard clean drinking water for nearly one billion people and have grown our movement:

  • From 35 Waterkeepers to 342 Waterkeepers
  • From 2 Countries to 44 Countries
  • From 1 Continent to 6 Continents
  • From patrolling and protecting 176,000 square miles to 2.7 million square miles
  • From 50 employees to 1,118 employees
  • From 5,000 volunteer/supporters to 1,045,319 volunteer/supporters

Thanks to your support, we’ve used legal action, community advocacy, education, and science to fight deep-pocketed polluters wherever we find them.

We fought to keep pesticides out of our water — and won. In 2010, the EPA wanted to exempt certain pesticides—linked to serious health risks—from regulation. We stepped in, took legal action, and got this irresponsible regulation revoked.

We fought for environmental justice — and won. In 2014, Waterkeeper Alliance and local environmental justice groups took action against the horrific industrial hog pollution that disproportionately impacts communities of color in North Carolina, filing a complaint against the State under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. As a result, North Carolina committed to new policies to ensure compliance with federal civil rights laws.

We fought to protect wild places and keep our rivers free-flowing — and won. In 2016, after years of citizen resistance, community efforts, and opposition from Futaleufú Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance, the multinational electric company Endesa relinquished its plans to dam the Futaleufú River in Chilean Patagonia, a remote region known for its undisturbed fjords, high mountain peaks, and glacier-fed rivers.

We fought to limit coal pollution that puts toxins into our water — and won. In 2018, Waterkeeper Alliance fought for stronger U.S. coal ash storage rules. Because of our suit, coal ash companies will not be allowed to store coal ash—containing some of the world’s deadliest toxic metals— in leaking ponds.

And right now, as the Trump administration attempts to dismantle the Clean Water Act, Waterkeeper Alliance is fighting on the local, state, and national level to preserve federal protections for millions of acres of wetlands and streams.

Now, we’re moving forward with our plan to protect 20 million square miles of waterways across the globe over the next 20 years. Please join us in protecting water for the next 20 years. We can’t do this without you.