In News, Water law, Water Quality

A New Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual for a New Generation Clean Water Champions

Since 1999, The Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual (Manual) has been on the shelves of thousands of water champions fighting to protect their waterways. It has been used by watershed leaders seeking avenues to advocate for their local streams, law school professors as a guide to teach the ins and outs of the law, as onboarding material for new staff at watershed organizations, and in many more ways. For me, I was handed a copy of the Manual when I started at River Network nearly three years ago, and to this day it is within arm’s reach of my desk. Using the same logic as, say, a car manual, the Manual lays out common problems that arise when confronting water quality issues and a breakdown of how you can use the tools of the Clean Water Act (Act) to arrive at solutions. Just don’t be like me and wait several months to get that check engine light – or designated use upgrade – taken care of! 

The Manual was last updated in 2005 and while it still provides relevant and useful information, there have been many changes to the Act over the last 17 years! As we commemorate the enactment of this bedrock law and its 50th anniversary this month, we wanted to bolster our network, look to the future and provide the next generation of water protectors with an up-to-date guide on how to use the Clean Water Act.  

Within the new updated Manual, River Network is centering environmental justice and climate change – two issues that have unfortunately not been focused on enough in Clean Water Act implementation. Throughout the Manual, you will see icons that call out where programs within the Act can address water issues confronted by low-income, disadvantaged and communities of color and how the Act can help communities address impacts of climate change. The Manual also tells the stories of several communities throughout the country that are tackling water quality issues. These communities pop up throughout the Manual to provide real-life, real-time examples of how they used the tools of the Act to advocate for and protect their local waterways.  

We are so excited for you all to dive into the new Manual and find a place for it on your *virtual* shelves for years to come. With our new virtual model, we are able to embed links to outside resources and to our own River Network website that will be your source on the Act’s ever-changing rules and policies. And don’t worry – you will also be able to print it for those who love hard copies!  

Please join us in celebrating the milestone anniversary of the Act and the release of the updated Manual! We will be hosting a kick-off webinar on October 18th at 10a PT/1p ET and hope to see you there! Registration information here. And stay tuned for announcements around upcoming trainings!

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