Clean Water

Clean Water

Clean water is indispensable for drinking, swimming, fish and wildlife, and farms and food. Healthy freshwater ecosystems are capable of delivering high quality water that is essential to all life. Surface water supplies two-thirds of our public drinking water in the U.S., but despite great advances in water pollution control, over half of our nation’s surveyed waters are of “poor” condition and cannot support healthy aquatic life.*

Threats to clean water and public health include irresponsible land-use development, crumbling infrastructure, agricultural pollution, energy exploration, long-term synergistic effects of multiple pollutants, and declines in enforcement and funding of clean water laws and regulations. Clean water is also closely linked to water quantity. Fortunately, many communities now embrace integrated approaches to restore healthy ecosystems. Helping your community find and implement solutions that improve water quality while also addressing flooding, energy use, and water shortages can help build a more sustainable future.

The best practices available throughout this website provide a set of proven approaches for keeping water clean and restoring damaged ecosystems. The impact stories offer examples from around the country where people are making a difference for their rivers. Explore what approaches might be appropriate, or are already being used, for the waters you care about most. You can also learn more about what River Network is currently doing to help keep water clean.

*“National Rivers and Streams Assessment 2008-2009”. Water: Survey of the Nation’s Rivers and Streams. U.S. EPA. 28 February 2013. Web. 1 August 2015.

Water drains

Catalyzing Policy Change

River Network supports caretakers in their efforts to improve existing policies and forge new and better policies for clean water at the local, state and national levels.

Green water

Providing Science Support

River Network provides support to groups on the ground seeking to bring science into their efforts to advocate for healthy rivers.  

People river rafting.

Networking & Learning

Facilitating communities of practice, learning networks, and coalitions for greater impact has been part of River Network’s DNA since our inception. Sometimes we are the convener or facilitator and in other times we may be a contributor.

Paint Creek_looking upstream from ped bridge

New Approach to Stormwater Management in the Paint Creek Watershed

In 2003, Michigan developed the country’s only watershed-based municipal stormwater general permit. The permit required, for the first time, that cities with populations between 50,000 and 100,000 control stormwater coming out of their systems. Before the permit was finalized, the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) convened the municipalities in their watershed to discuss the upcoming... Read More
Duwamish Valley

Inclusive Community Engagement for Cleaning Up the Duwamish River

The Duwamish River is a 5.5 mile long Superfund site that flows through Seattle's Duwamish Valley, a highly developed urban and industrial center south of downtown. It suffers from a legacy of pollution that has accumulated in the river’s sediments and throughout its food chain. Eighty percent of Seattle's industrial lands are located within the Duwamish... Read More
depave1

New Public Green Space in Puget Sound

The Portland-based organization, Depave, recruits and trains community members to safely remove pavement and create new public green space. Depave has removed more than 123,000 square feet of pavement with the help of over 2,250 volunteers from various Portland communities. As a result of this work, each year more than 2.875 million gallons of rainwater is diverted from... Read More

Learn More