River Voices: July 2020

Welcome to the July 2020 edition of River Voices, with a focus on our work in the Delaware River basin. Explore our new website pages for this work, read Colleen Walters’s reflections on returning to her home watershed, and hear how Bartram’s Gardens’ community boating program is providing water access and experience to the community. And, all premium members now have access to Virtual River Rally content. Join or renew today!

Photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

The Delaware River basin is fortunate to have so many impactful and passionate people working for its health and safety. River Network works to promote collaboration among basin groups to catalyze effective policy changes and community science to benefit water quality. Recent successes in the basin could not have been achieved without the commitment of local organizations and advocates. Learn more on this new page on our Delaware work, in the latest blog post from our staff in the basin, and through interviews with Joanne Douglas and Chloe Wang of Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia.

“The collaboration [with River Network staff] was so important because they know policy and what agencies to go to in order to make change, which would have taken hours to figure out on our own. We were able to get to the letter writing quickly because of them.”

-Joanne Douglas, Bartram’s Garden


We’re blown away by participation in the “Masks On, Litter Gone” events, supported by Ball Corporation, the world’s leader in infinitely recyclable aluminum packaging! Thanks to all who took part in Findlay, Phoenix, and Ft. Atkinson, beating our goal of 10,000 pieces of litter collected, and thanks to Ball for supporting another year of cleanups! We’re thrilled to keep bringing these unique events to local communities around the country to encourage recycling and individual action for community waterways, all thanks to Ball.

Learn more about Ball.


The Virtual River Rally platform will remain open through Friday August 14, 2020 – and now premium members receive full access! Join or renew today for full access to this year’s Rally content, a 40% discount on River Rally 2021 registration, free event and job postings on our website, and access to funding through the Business for Water Stewardship Bank. If you’re already registered for Virtual Rally, your access will not be affected, whether you’re a premium member or not. Email with questions.

Explore premium membership.


We’re proud to provide this free to access, easy to understand toolkit, thanks to the generous support of The Coca-Cola Foundation. Within, you’ll find strategies, activities, and specific devices to help address aquatic litter in your community. Whether you’re a community organization, concerned citizen, or local decision-maker, Waste in Our Waters will walk you through assessing your community’s aquatic litter issues, planning a cleanup effort, choosing a litter capture device, responsibly disposing of the waste you collect, and more.

Download the Toolkit.

Man fishing off the dock at the Bartram’s Garden community boathouse.

A Letter from Bartram’s Garden to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection

In August of 2019, Bartram’s Garden engaged River Network and PennFuture to consult on a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Delaware River Basin Commission. This launched a multi-step collaboration among staff, students, and volunteers to secure greater protections for the now-beloved Lower Schuylkill River. The training helped “us understand the landscape of water policy for our specific context, which was really illuminating and changed the way that I understand the river and the structures that govern it,” says Chloe Wang. Read more.


Joanne is a science teacher at Jubilee School in West Philadelphia and works part-time with partner organizations Bartram’s Garden and Glen Foerd. Joanne developed and implemented the first summer environmental internship program, housed at Bartram’s Garden and shared by numerous boat-building and environmental education programs across Philadelphia.

Meet Joanne.

orig file path: Images > 2018 > Aetna at Harvest Fest 2018 > Selects

Chloe Wang is River Programs Coordinator at Bartram’s Garden, where her role includes leading community science programming, teaching middle school boat-building, supporting public boating and fishing programs, contributing to professional development activities of the Alliance for Watershed Education, and working on projects with a host of other partners.

Meet Chloe.

Events & Learning Opportunities

Delaware Spotlight: Registration Now Open for the 8th Annual Delaware River Watershed Forum

Join conservation leaders from across the Delaware River Watershed for sessions that include engaging speakers, facilitated discussions, virtual field trips, and skill-building workshops. The Forum’s theme this year is “From the Headwaters to the Bay and the Tribs In-Between: Staying Connected Amidst a Pandemic” and the event will highlight conservation projects, diversity and equity, legislative updates, and much more. View the schedule-at-a-glance to see some of the topics that will be discussed. Discounted early bird tickets are available for $75 until Friday, July 31, with scholarships and student tickets available as well. Learn more and register.

Volunteer Monitoring Trainings in Response to COVID

July 8, 3p ET
This panel discussion will include four veteran volunteer monitoring program directors (Mona Dominguez, Julie Vastine, Barb Horn, and Jason Frenzel) who have held and/or who are planning additional volunteer trainings during COVID. They will each describe their trainings, and will share advice they have from challenges and successes they faced. These lightning round-style presentations will be followed by a question and answer session. 


Policy Innovations to Secure Drinking Water for All

July 9, 2p ET
The drinking water challenges facing America today are numerous. This webinar from US Water Alliance and the Water Foundation, will feature a discussion of the lessons and shared elements of success in the report gathered from our regional roundtables. Attendees will also hear from two different drinking water policy successes that were featured in the report – the California Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund and Ohio’s H2Ohio program.


How to Host Online Events

July 14, 4p ET
Are you looking for ways to keep your community organizing efforts and environmental advocacy alive while we continue to work from home? Do you want to learn some new tips and tricks about how to host successful online events? Then look no further! Join Conservation Voters of PA and PennEnvironment for a training about how to pull off a successful online event or meeting. We’ll discuss recruiting for the event, planning the agenda, ensuring people tune in, and how to make sure the virtual event runs smoothly.


Rain Barrel 101 Webinar & Curbside Pick-Up

July 19
Join the Headwaters Institute for a fun afternoon learning all about rainwater harvesting and how to install a rain barrel at your home! To increase safety, Headwaters Institute is delivering the education via webinar and holding a rain barrel and conversion kit curbside pick-up on July 18th (the day before the webinar). The pick-up location will be in Fort Collins. You will receive additional information closer to the event.


Women Empowering Women for Indigenous Nations 2020

July 28
This conference is designed to fulfill WEWIN’s mission to Engage… Inspire… and Empower women to strengthen and sustain tribal cultures; exercise inherent sovereign rights for the good of our citizens and communities; advocate in support of wellbeing; promote honest dignified leadership that balances service leadership and devotion to loved ones – while expressing encouragement, understanding, and joy to others following the guidance of our creator.


Member News and Tips

Fundraising Consultant Request for Proposals

River Network, on behalf of the Water Data Collaborative (WDC) is requesting proposals for a Fundraising Consultant for an expected 3-month engagement to lead the Steering Committee in developing a collaborative fundraising model that defines parameters and strategies for how we fundraise as a collaborative to ensure long-term financial sustainability, and to pilot the collaborative fundraising model through the development and submission of fundraising proposals.

Learn more and apply. Deadline 7/10.

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice Small Grants Program

CHEJ has a Small Grants Program for grassroots groups working on environmental health and justice issues.Grassroots communities of color, low wealth, rural and urban groups are encouraged to apply. This grant program will support projects that help groups move toward their goals by building leadership, increasing capacity, or providing training and education. Application deadline: July 17.

Learn more and apply.

How’s My Waterway 2.0 Released by EPA

How’s My Waterway assembles publicly available water quality data into a user-friendly package that provides information on the quality of our nation’s waters. The new version of How’s My Waterway works on all different screen sizes—from computers and tablets to mobile phones. This new tool will facilitate next steps in our collective efforts to provide clean water for recreation and safe drinking water for communities across the nation.

Learn more and use the tool.

A Partnership of Yes: Middle Rio Grande Partnership Works Stronger Together

The Middle Rio Grande faces unique urban challenges due to regional drought and competing water uses. To address these issues, the area was designated as an Urban Waters Federal Partnership location in 2013. From large redevelopment projects to smaller, unique projects—like the Mobile Pop-Up Park —the Partnership has worked together with the community to become a partnership of ‘yes.’

Learn more at the UWLN blog.

What We’re Reading

Intersectional Environmentalist – Founded by Leah Thomas, check out this new platform for “resources, information and action steps to support intersectional environmentalism and dismantle systems of oppression in the environmental movement, led by environmental activists and sustainability advocates.”

Blue Index Executive Summary – 2019 Emerging Leader Kevin Jeffery has released the final report and executive summary for his innovative project, Blue Index. Read the executive summary to learn more about what he found and recommendations for how to improve Austin waterscapes, and contact Kevin if you would like to download the full report.

Policy Innovations to Secure Drinking Water for All – The COVID-19 crisis and the protests for racial justice must sharpen our focus and commitment to safe water for all. A new report from Water Foundation & US Water Alliance examines how community-driven solutions and diverse coalitions have the power to do that. River Network is excited and proud to have been part of the advisory group for this new report!

“The next disaster for Black communities” – Water equity and disaster preparedness are essential in building resilient communities and empowering local leaders to respond to hurricanes and other natural disasters. We’re proud to be part of Kresge’s CREWS initiative, which supported this powerful op-ed from Kathy Egland and Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., published in The Hill.

“Tackling climate change by investing in our watershed” – Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed and Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership also have an op-ed this month, about the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.