River Voices: April 2021
Welcome to the April 2021 edition of River Voices. This month, we’re taking a look at the state of water access and affordability one year into the pandemic and sharing our excitement for Action Day for Clean Water and Rivers. Plus, register for River Rally by April 15 to take part in the mentorship program!
Water affordability issues across the United States have grown at a staggering rate over the last several years and have become an even larger problem since the start of the pandemic, but solutions are on the horizon. There are ways that state and local advocates can begin to plan for and initiate conversations with their leaders to ensure equitable and timely distribution of Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) funds to those in need.
“I feel so deeply that we owe it to the rivers to undo the damage we’ve done in the last hundred years. When we remove a dam, people celebrate it as being historic, but this history started 13,000 years ago. But we can undo all of that damage.”
2021 River Hero Beth Styler Barry discusses dam removals and river restoration in New Jersey.
Six weeks until River Rally! We’re looking forward to practical content contributed from across the country, mentorship opportunities, and peer-to-peer engagement on the issues that matter most to you.
Download the program to browse ‘live’ and ‘on-demand’ workshops.
Register by April 15 to take part in the mentorship program.
Meet G. Tracy Mehan, III, River Network board member and Executive Director, Government Affairs, for the American Water Works Association (AWWA).
He has served as Interim President of the U.S. Water Alliance and national Source Water Protection Coordinator for the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.
Action Day for Clean Water and Rivers – Join Us!
Have you started texting and tweeting your members of Congress, and are missing the chance to actually talk to someone? Are you new to advocacy and want some support to make an effective ask to get Congress to invest in clean and safe water? Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, it’s an opportune time to make your voice heard in Washington. Action Days for Clean Water and Rivers on April 27-29 is a great chance to join up with others and take our message to the Hill!
“Over time, the ranchers have been able to reduce the amount of time needed to maintain these structures and have seen water quality improve, wildlife return to their land, an increase in riparian plant diversity, and an increase in water quantity resulting in a longer season of water access.”
Mikhaela Mullins, Science & Policy Program Associate at River Network, discusses the importance of supporting watershed coalitions as they tackle important river planning.
Watch the tour to explore the content and connection that this year’s event will provide. All River Rally registrants now have the opportunity to explore and familiarize themselves with the virtual conference platform. Don’t miss your chance to explore select content from River Rally 2020 at your own pace and engage with other early registrants.
Check out the River Rally 2021 program and register early to be entered into the River Rally giveaway!
Events & Learning Opportunities
State Policy Showcase: Human Right to Water
Apr 7, 2 pm ET
Amanda Monaco with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability and Jorge Aguilar with Food and Water Watch will tell us about the Human Right to Water policies in California and Virginia – including the nuts-and-bolts of the policy and what drove action by decision-makers.
Western Rivers Conservancy’s Great Rivers of the West Series, Live!
Mar 6 – Apr 21
This online series featuring photographer Tim Palmer will take viewers on a visual journey to dozens of rivers in the western United States. Each episode in the presentation schedule will tell you what these rivers are all about. Register once and watch a single episode or tune in for all eight!
Alabama Rivers Alliance’s Water is Life Series
Apr 13-May 18
Alabama Rivers Alliance invites you to join the Water is Life Zoom Talk series every Tuesday at 12 pm CT. This series highlights the role that water plays in the lives of Alabamans and shares how you can participate in the efforts to protect water. Watch any past talks on their website.
Member News and Tips
USDA Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry Program
The Forest Service seeks innovative grant proposals that will address urban and community forest resilience and aligns with one or more applicable goals in the National Ten Year Urban and Community Forestry Action Plan (2016-2026). Apply by April 16.
Water is Life Fund from DigDeep & the Kohler Company
The Water is Life grant program funds creative, high-impact solutions developed by local change-makers that provide access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) to people in the United States, US territories, and sovereign tribal nations. Apply by April 30.
Environmental Justice Small Grants Program
The Environmental Justice Small Grants Program supports communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues. The program funds projects up to $50,000, depending on the availability of funds in a given year. Apply by May 7.
Science Corner: Science that Protects Drinking Water
The latest from our science team.
Many of us are familiar with important community initiatives to collect water quality data that characterize and protect streams and rivers, but what about community science to protect clean and safe drinking water? From our online community, we found out about quite a few efforts in this space.
One great example from our network is in New Jersey, where the Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) has run the Community Well Testing Program since 1974. While the Safe Drinking Water Act covers public water systems, people who rely on wells for their drinking water are on their own to monitor water safety. To address this, RHA partners with a state-certified lab to offer affordable and reliable testing for contaminants such as lead, volatile organic compounds and bacteria. Filling this gap is necessary, as many small, local labs have closed. RHA makes the process convenient by partnering with municipalities and hosting events where people can pick up test kits. In the process, RHA has become a reliable partner and has helped thousands of people monitor their drinking water safety. RHA Watershed Scientist, Mara Tippett says, “we’ve found that the program can also create opportunities for education and be a powerful way to engage citizens as environmental advocates.”
What We’re Reading
What Went Wrong With Jackson, Mississippi’s Water? — from Science Friday, learn what’s happening in Jackson, and why its infrastructure was particularly vulnerable to this crisis.
Misadventures in Fundraising — Rachel D’Souza-Siebert reflects on her early lessons in community-centric fundraising.
Tools for Equitable Climate Resilience: Fostering Community-Led Research and Knowledge — get step-by-step guidance and lessons learned on how to effectively engage with community members to understand climate impacts and to develop more equitable climate resilience strategies.