Catalyzing Policy Change

aerial view of river in the fall

In addition to River Network’s long history of catalyzing policy change related to clean water (see this page), we also work on policies and regulations that support ample water in our rivers for ecological function, fish and other water dependent species, drinking water and recreation for healthy rivers and thriving communities.

State policy:

There are a variety of state policies that can be adopted for protecting and restoring flows in our rivers. While each can be evaluated separately, these policies are clearly overlapping and should ideally be considered in an integrated manner taking underlying legal doctrine into account. For an in-depth analysis of these state policies and their status in the Southeastern U.S., please see our report Protecting and Restoring Flows in Our Southeastern Rivers: A Synthesis of State Policies for Water Security and Sustainability.

Local Policy:

We are currently working with the Alliance for Water Efficiency and the Environmental Law Institute to support water neutral community growth. This initiative, called Net Blue, involves developing a model ordinance and other tools that communities can tailor to create a water demand offset approach that meets their needs. This three year project will involve experts in land use law, local community municipal planners, developers, water conservation experts, river and watershed advocates, local decision makers, sustainability experts and others. It will include “road testing” the ordinance and methodology in half a dozen cities that have different political climates, land use laws and concerns of water scarcity.

River Network also lends its support for national and multi-state initiatives designed to promote greater water security and sustainability and voluntary water transactions. Because of the importance of system-based solutions, this support also extends to policies related to dams and reservoirs (avoiding new dams, supporting dam removal, and encouraging dam reoperation for environmental flows), protection for headwaters and floodplains, groundwater resources, and integrated water resource management more generally. At the local level, River Network builds the capacity of concerned citizens, engaged communities, and local groups to engage in policy issues. We also bring attention to their work, successes, and challenges through our website, social media promotion, and newsletter. We do not engage in lobbying activities directly.