Effective Advocacy & Policies
Well-equipped and engaged advocates and communities are critical in the fight for strong water laws and policies at the local, state, and federal levels. They are essential to holding decision makers at all levels accountable for protecting public health and key to safeguarding our environment in a way that equitably protects all people.
Below, learn about River Network’s work related to water laws and policies, and connect with our staff working on these issues.
Helping Groups Implement Federal and State Law
The Clean Water Act (CWA)
River Network has developed and deployed many resources to train water leaders throughout the US on how to use the Clean Water Act to fight for stronger clean water protections.
- Clean Water Act 101
- Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual
- Point Source Pollution and Permits
- Tribal Roles in Implementing the CWA
See our Clean Water Act webpage for a full list of resources, including how YOU can get involved.
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
The Safe Drinking Water Act is our nation’s main law to protect the quality of our drinking water at the tap. River Network has developed resources to guide the national network in advocating for clean and safe drinking water for their communities.
- Drinking Water Guide for Advocates
- Understanding the SDWA
- Low Income Housing Water Affordability Program (LIHWAP) implementation
More Opportunities to Have Influence
- Equitable Water Infrastructure: If you’ve ever wondered how funding decisions about drinking water, wastewater and stormwater are made, our Equitable Infrastructure Toolkit was created for you. Broken into sections on utilities, affordability, infrastructure, and how to influence the decision-making process, it offers education and practical advice for advocates to get involved at the local, state, and federal levels, whether you’re a seasoned advocate or just starting to get involved for your water.
- Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Learn about historic investments and how to impact implementation efforts on this page.
- Join the SRF (State Revolving Fund) Forum convened by River Network, PolicyLink, Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Environmental Policy Innovation Center (EPIC) to discuss how SRF funding will impact water infrastructure projects in your state.
Connecting Our Network to Federal, State, and Regional Policy
- Monthly Federal Policy Calls: nonprofit clean water advocates can stay up-to-date on key federal policy issues and join with other local and statewide water protection groups on monthly Water Policy Update and Exchange calls. Register here.
- Action Alerts: Opportunities for the public to take action on high priority water-related issues. Have a need for an action alert? Members can fill out this submission form and our team will help you create and share your alert.
- Action Days: We teamed up with our friends at American Rivers to provide training on the how-tos of effective lobbying, details and talking points on current policy issues, and virtually connected over 70 individuals to their representatives in 2021. In 2022, we took advocates to DC for in-person connection and advocacy following River Rally, meeting with ~80 offices.
- State Policy Hub: The State Policy Hub highlights policies, resolutions, and regulations on: Drinking water Access, Affordability, Lead, PFAS, Regionalization & Consolidation, Water Data Access & Availability, Environmental Justice, and Bolstering Clean Water Act Protections. Use the Hub to find state policy language and examples of effective advocacy efforts at the state level.
- State Policy Showcases: These learning sessions feature water-related policy and case studies from network members. Watch them on YouTube here and if you have a suggestion for a policy you’d like to learn about or a case study you’d like to share – please reach out and let us know.
- Southeast Flows Report – State Policy Synthesis: Learn how state policy can be used to protect and restore flows in the Southeast.
National & Regional Coalitions
Coalition involvement leads to collective action. River Network is involved in many water policy-focused coalitions throughout the country:
Read the latest from our staff and partners on our law and policy-related work and what’s happening across the network:
- A New Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual for a New Generation Clean Water Champions, by Colleen Walters
- The Next 50 Years of the Clean Water Act: Evening the Playing Field, by Amanda Aspatore
- Court’s Climate Ruling Will Have Far Reaching Impact, by Katherine Baer
- Unpacking Federal Water Policy Progress, Gaps & What Lies Ahead, by April Ingle
Civic & Community Engagement
River Network highlights opportunities and avenues for communities to elevate their voices for clean, safe, and accessible water.
- The Clean Water Act provides several opportunities for public input. In the Delaware River Basin, we amplify local opportunities and emphasize the importance of sharing YOUR local knowledge.
- Civic engagement is critical to electing water champions. Check out our Get Out the Vote resources
- Can 501(c)(3) organizations participate in advocacy or lobbying? Of course they can! Learn about the what, who, and how of nonprofit advocacy work.
- Learn about how we work with local leaders to put their Data to Action through the Clean Water Act’s Integrated Report process.