River Voices: November 2021

Welcome to the November 2021 edition of River Voices. This month, learn how local groups are implementing River Network’s Waste in Our Waters toolkit and how you can replicate their lessons learned in your community. Planning on coming to River Rally in June? Take our survey to help shape the program and be entered to win a Patagonia jacket!

Rio de Flag Clean Up in Southside, May 4th, 2018, volunteers removing trash from the Rio de Flag in Southside neighborhood south of Butler Ave. Flagstaff, Arizona
Rio de Flag Clean Up in Southside, May 4th, 2018, volunteers removing trash from the Rio de Flag in Southside neighborhood south of Butler Ave. Flagstaff, Arizona

How can trash collection and clean up lead to change in a community’s policies or practices? For decades, we have supported community engagement through litter collection and trash clean-ups, and more recently, we’ve helped groups install in-stream litter collection devices. But are these practices affecting behavior or policy change? And how are the data collected by in-stream litter devices being used? As part of our intern Aaron Dickinson’s summer research, he dove into just these questions. Read about what he found and how it might be applicable in other communities.

Read more.


“There was a lot of distrust between the water utility and the community, but they were able to turn it around… I’m excited to share this partnership in particular because it’s a fantastic example of this collaboration. They started from a place of distrust but had the foresight to pause the project and come up with new solutions.”

Caroline is Water Policy Director at WaterNow Alliance, and worked with River Network on our forthcoming “Building Blocks of Trust” report, detailing best practices for how community groups and water utilities can work together.

Meet Caroline.

Enjoying Alabama's Sipsey Fork Wild & Scenic River; Mvskoke lands. Photo by Maggie Johnston, Wild Alabama, 2021 funding recipient.

We’re thrilled to announce the awardees for our third year of Wild & Scenic Partnership Stewardship Funding, supported by the US Forest Service! Read all about the projects that, through this program, will promote equitable access to the enjoyment of these incredible natural resources.

This year’s awardees are California Wilderness Coalition, Love in Motion, Salmon Valley Stewardship, Tin Mountain Conservation Center, Umpqua Watersheds, and Wild Alabama.

Read more.


River Rally 2022 will be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and an opportunity for the network to come together after two years of virtual Rally.

The River Network team feels that feedback and recommendations from the network of water protectors would greatly benefit this event. Our ultimate goal is to create a space that honors the challenges that we are currently facing in our communities. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey and be entered to win a Patagonia jacket!

Take the 3-minute survey.

How 90 High Schoolers Removed Over 1 Ton of Community Litter

Earlier this year, in collaboration with River Network, Findlay, Ohio’s Blanchard River Watershed Partnership (BRWP) and the local United Way organized an Earth Week clean-up event opportunity for 90 National Honors Society (NHS) students to collaborate with their community, gain valuable leadership skills, and foster a commitment to the environment. Learn how this group of passionate students removed over one ton of litter, preventing it from reaching local waters, and find valuable lessons you can apply to clean-ups in your own community.

Read more.


With a lot of attention on federal policy related to drinking water right now, be sure to check out our NEW State Policy Hub, which highlights the unique (and similar) policies that states have rolled out, from green amendments in the 1970s to lead service line replacement plans in 2021. The Hub features over 60 individual state-level policies on drinking water topics like PFAS, affordability, and access, in addition to “Lessons from the Network,” in-depth features on network leaders who have helped many of these innovative policies come to life.

Explore the Hub.

Have you checked out our new four-part series, “Strategic Planning in 15 Minutes or Less” yet? In the series, River Network staff will guide you through some key aspects of strategic planning. Short and impactful, with each episode under 15 minutes to easily fit into your schedule, we’ll review what’s included in a strategic plan process, things to consider before hiring a consultant, special considerations for coalitions and collaboratives, and tricks for keeping your plan relevant. Episodes 1 and 2 are available now, with 3 and 4 being released in the coming weeks.

Watch Episodes 1 and 2.

Science Corner: Quality Assurance & Making Your Community Science Data Count

The latest from our science team.

How do you make your community science data count? The Association of Public Health Laboratories recently launched a video series that helps to break down key steps in creating a quality assurance plan and how to leverage the resources available to successfully launch a community science project to produce sound, useable data. One major resource to utilize is the Environmental Protection Agency’s Quality Assurance and Documentation Handbook as well as supplemental templates and example documents to guide your project plan development. It’s important to know how you want to use and disseminate your data so you can tailor your plan for the end goal. Do you want to share your data to inform decisions at the federal, state, or local level? Do you want to include it in regional or national databases? Do you want create data visualizations to highlight issues in your community? No matter the use, it’s important to have a plan and these resources offer important guidance to tailor your plans for your goals. Data sharing can go a long way… make it count!

Events & Learning Opportunities

Communications for Coalitions Learning Series

Nov. 4 & 18, 2-3:30p ET / 11a-12:30p PT
Join parts 2 and 3 of River Network’s Communications for Coalitions Learning Series, led by Brandon Hayes of Bold Bison Communications Consulting. This virtual learning series is designed to enhance the skills and capacities of coalitions and multi-stakeholder partnerships. These two sessions will cover Storytelling & Message Creation and Communications Planning.

Learn more and register.

Reimagining Climate Solutions: The Power of Arts and Culture

Nov. 10, 1p ET / 10a PT
Join US Water Alliance on a journey to activate creative flooding communication and solutions in Philadelphia’s Germantown community, as well as the development of Tucson’s Chubasco Channel, a community-sourced experience of the shifting monsoons. Stories feature what challenge teams sought to address, the partnership they built, and recent progress on their projects.


Policy Opportunities at the Intersection of Community Dev. and Urban Waters

Dec. 9, 1p ET / 1oa PT
This Urban Waters Learning Network Peer Exchange will share emerging policy opportunities at the federal level to promote affordable housing, economic development, and workforce development. The UWLN Equitable Development Collaborative has been engaged in meaningful conversations about anti-displacement strategies and invites you to join the conversation!


Member News & Tips

EPA Virtual Water Quality Standards (WQS) Academy

EPA is pleased to announce that registration for the December 2021 Virtual WQS Academy is open. The Academy provides WQS development and implementation information to WQS professionals associated with the federal, state, tribal and local agencies as well as the private sector and the public.

Register by Nov. 10.

NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest

Students in grades K-8 can submit their artwork (electronically or by mail) now through December 10th that answers the questions: How does marine debris impact the oceans and Great Lakes? What are you doing to help prevent marine debris? Contest winners will be featured in a 2023 calendar!

Learn more and submit by Dec. 10.

Choose Clean Water Conference – Presenter RFP

The Choose Clean Water Coalition is now accepting submissions to lead 45-minute presentations at their conference. See the full RFP here and submit your proposal to share with your fellow Coalition members learnings that will stir enthusiasm for envisioning a bright future for our clean water movement.

Learn more and submit by Jan. 14.