For More Information

external linkWaterkeeper Alliance

Building a Foundation for Clean, Healthy Waterways

“Treat the Earth well; it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.”

John H. Dunnigan, Bobby Kennedy Jr., and Paul Polizzotto at the 2009 Waterkeeper Alliance conference

NOS Assistant Administrator John H. Dunnigan, Bobby Kennedy Jr., and Paul Polizzotto at the 2009 Waterkeeper Alliance conference held at the State University of New York Maritime College, New York.

These words were delivered by NOS Assistant Administrator John H. Dunnigan at the 11th Annual Waterkeeper Alliance Conference. As a keynote speaker, Mr. Dunnigan spoke about the importance of working together to solve ocean problems. He also talked about the role of scientific research in protecting water, coast, and ocean resources.

Waterkeeper Alliance is an international network of 189 Waterkeeper programs spanning six continents.  Each Waterkeeper program reflects the needs of the waterbody and community it represents. The common thread for each Waterkeeper program is a full-time person who serves as the Waterkeeper, the public advocate for that body of water. “Waterkeepers” are individuals who serve as investigators, scientists, lawyers, and advocates working to protect communities, ecosystems, and water quality.

Every place is special and every place is different. Equipped with tools ranging from boats to hip boots, the Waterkeepers take the steps necessary to act as stewards for these unique environments.  In some cases, it is about partnerships, education, or restoration of injured resources. In most places, it is about finding the sources of negative impacts to waterways and working to remove these impacts. Most often this means hard work to build coalitions to find solutions.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Bobby Kennedy, Jr. meet with Waterkeeper Alliance members.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Bobby Kennedy, Jr. meet with Waterkeeper Alliance members.

The Waterkeeper Alliance conference brought together Waterkeepers from 19 countries to discuss climate change and ways to mitigate its impacts on waterways. In addition to Mr. Dunnigan, speakers ranged from White House Council on Environmental Quality Chief of Staff Jon Carson to Dr. James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton also took the stage to introduce the “Clinton Climate Initiative.” This initiative is designed to create solutions to the issues driving climate change, including increasing energy efficiency, catalyzing the large-scale supply of clean energy, and working to stop deforestation.

It became apparent by the end of the conference that by connecting NOS science with the Waterkeeper presence in communities, a strong foundation will be built for efforts leading to clean and healthy oceans, coasts, rivers, and streams.