April Ingle leading a Clean Water Act Training at Alabama Water Rally. Photo courtesy Alabama Rivers Alliance.
 In Education and Learning, Water law, Water policy

River Network Launches New Tools to Support Network Advocacy

This post was co-written by members of River Network’s Policy Team, including Shelby Cline, April Ingle, Erin Kanzig, Campbell Simmons, and Colleen Walters.

At River Network, we have a long history of developing tools and resources and offering training to help our network tackle the water issues they care about at the local, state, and national levels. This support takes many forms, from hosting online learning sessions, to facilitating training programs, and publishing written toolkits and guides. Now, we’re expanding how we share and present resources by increasing opportunities for Network members to learn online at their own pace and offering new in-person trainings in communities around the country.


New Online Training to Support State Revolving Fund Advocacy

Through our new online learning platform we are offering both self-directed and hybrid (which combines both facilitated sessions and self-directed learning) online training series. We piloted the hybrid approach this spring with an 8-part training series based on River Network and Clean Water for All Coalition’s State Revolving Fund (SRF) Advocacy Toolkit. In the training, we facilitated a cohort of around 20 local and state advocates along with talented guest speakers to dive into what advocates need to know about SRFs and how to advocate for program improvements.

💡Why Are SRFs Important?

There are two SRF programs, the Clean Water SRF and Drinking Water SRF. These federal programs provide critical financial support for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure projects. BIL added an additional $50 BILLION to the SRFs across 2022-2026. See the below graphic for how these funds flow.

Click the image to view full size.

The SRF Advocacy Training Series is an extremely valuable resource filled with links to more amazing resources! The entire guide is awesome and the training series really encouraged me to take the time to delve through each and every section in depth.

Victoria Miller, Alabama Rivers Alliance 

New Online Drinking Water Advocacy Training Series

Joining the SRF series in our online learning platform this month is a new self-paced Drinking Water Advocacy Training Series, based on our Drinking Water Guide. The training provides information on topics such as source water protection, drinking water regulations, climate change resilience, water affordability, and more. The training also features a variety of fact sheets, videos, helpful resources, and activities to support drinking water advocacy in a meaningful and personalized way. At the end of the training, participants complete an action plan tailored to their needs to inspire their work.

This series takes the Drinking Water Guide, originally published in English and Spanish in 2019, to the next level, and ensures advocates across the network are poised to speak up for their communities’ drinking water. This and all our other self-paced series include direct access to River Network staff who answer questions and provide additional resources as participants move through the material.

New Clean Water Act Online Training Series Joins the Platform, Too!

Following the launch of our newly updated Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual, we built a new 9-session, self-paced Clean Water Act Training Series to provide clean water advocates with the background and tools necessary to protect the health of our rivers and streams. The series dives into the Act’s programs – from water quality standards and pollution permits to nonpoint source pollution and citizen suits – and encourages participants to dive deep into how their state or tribe administers and implements the Act and how to engage in opportunities to advocate for improved protections for local waterways.

In-Person Clean Water Act Workshops and One-on-One Support

Leaving the digital world, another way we are reaching our Network is through in-person Clean Water Act trainings and one-on-one support. River Network has been hitting the road with our newly updated Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual, to bring this foundational resource to life and provide in-depth workshops on the Clean Water Act. At the workshops participants learn about the ins and outs of the Act while making connections to their own work through local case studies and hands-on exercises. Already this year we partnered with Network members to offer workshops in Alabama and Pennsylvania – and we are looking forward to upcoming workshops in Colorado, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

We received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the Clean Water Act Manual workshop at Alabama Water Rally from both professional and novice clean water advocates. A highlight of the workshop, which was led by River Network staff April Ingle, was to have our watershed-based partners connect sections of the Manual to their work across the state. This not only served as a way to understand the use of the Manual, but also as an update to our Alliance partners on the important work these organizations are doing. Participants were excited to have this great resource updated to use in their communities and suggested we have this workshop every year at our annual gathering!

-Cindy Lowry, Executive Director, Alabama Rivers Alliance

In the Delaware River Basin, we have led small group and one-on-one training sessions for local organizations to build their understanding of how the Clean Water Act “shows up” in their waterways. Through deep dives into local water quality standards, state water quality assessments and impaired waters, identifying local permits and discharges, and highlighting avenues to share their local knowledge and data, River Network has worked to build the capacity for local groups to elevate their advocacy and share their voices to reach the goal of a fully fishable and swimmable Delaware River. This place-based work at the regional and local level in the Delaware Basin has enabled us to foster connections across groups with shared goals and identify unique opportunities for joint action, leading to a more collaborative and effective regional network.

These online and in-person trainings ensure our Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual, published to mark last year’s 50th Anniversary of the Act’s passing, is as accessible as it can be, bringing the material to life in new ways. At a time when this landmark water legislation is under frequent attack, it’s more important than ever for advocates to understand all the tools in this essential toolbox.


Coming Soon!

Be on the lookout for new fact sheets and learning opportunities that outline federal funding opportunities to support your advocacy for water-related climate resilience and healthy rivers in your communities.

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