Catalyzing Policy Change

Water drains

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. Our policy work achieves results by empowering groups with the best information from around the country, providing groups greater access to existing laws and regulations, and identifying which state and federal policies need stronger enforcement to achieve water quality goals. We also add our support to broader policy initiatives when appropriate.

The best tool for protecting and restoring rivers and watersheds is the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act explicitly empowers citizens to participate in its interpretation, implementation and enforcement, but many of its strongest provisions are little understood and poorly applied.  

For more than a decade, River Network has helped river and watershed leaders with achieving a strong, thorough understanding of the Clean Water Act as well as how to best implement it to achieve their goals.  The support we provide focuses on the practical, and can be tailored for your unique situation – What are your state and other states doing to implement the Act? What has worked in other watersheds around the country? How can broad national policies really be translated into on-the-ground benefits for your local river? We also offer one-on-one consultation, basic training, and in-depth policy analysis. From reviewing permits to providing comments on restoration plans, we can help you understand, analyze and take action on the important issues in your watershed.

Examples of the type of policy analysis we conduct include:

  • Producing policy and science analysis in large interstate watersheds
    River Network is working in the Delaware Basin to provide support to groups working throughout the basin on science and policy issues.
  • Reduced harm caused by dredge and fill permits nationwide
    River Network conducted a nationwide review of the Clean Water Act’s 401 water quality certification program and identified conditions that could be used in permits to enhance water quality protections.
  • Minimized phosphorus pollution by through technology
    River Network assisted local partners in Utah for six years to require point source dischargers to meet technology-based effluent limits for phosphorus, a major pollution concern in Utah and around the nation.
  • Protect Minnesota’s waters from sulfide mining
    River Network joined forces with the Minnesota Environmental Partnership to convene key water protection advocates and facilitated a detailed discussion of policy and legal options related to Clean Water Act programs.
  • Identify most promising policy opportunities for clean water in the Delaware and Mississippi River Basins
    River Network has evaluated CWA tools throughout the Mississippi Basin and is in the process of identifying and evaluating promising policy opportunities for greater coordination in the Delaware Basin.

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