River Voices: October 2023

Welcome to the October 2023 edition of River Voices. This month we’re talking all things federal funding: from barriers groups are facing to how River Network is helping unpack these complicated programs. Plus, River Rally session proposals are open until November 10!

The Network Needs You: Southeastern Louisiana is facing a saltwater intrusion crisis in the Mississippi River, that is expected to last for months, impacting the only fresh drinking water source for nearly one million residents. Local organizations and concerned residents have been working together to bring mutual aid to impacted community members – learn how you can help Louisiana.

Five white sandbags rest on a makeshift dam, holding back floodwater along a city street lined with trees. Some people are floating in a raft in the background.

In the wake of new legislation, communities and groups working on climate infrastructure are scrambling to take advantage of massive, newly available funding opportunities. Our new Resilient Communities and Policy Associate, Campbell Simmons, has been interviewing folks in the network to learn about their experiences accessing federal funding, and the barriers they face to receiving it. In response to our network’s voices, River Network is building out our resources on climate resilience and other federal funding for water through a new Tapping Into Federal Funding hub. Scroll down for more.

Read Campbell’s blog about what we’re learning from the network and how we’re supporting members.

“More agencies are interested in the human factor than ever before, but it’s a massive lift to put those stories together. The more work you’re willing to put in the more likely you are to be awarded the funding, but that’s difficult for limited capacity groups.”

-Gloria McNair, Community Engagement Coordinator, Groundwork Jacksonville

River Rally Session Proposals Are OPEN


We are accepting session proposals for River Rally 2024 through November 10!

We’ve improved the process this year, so be sure to read through the River Rally Session Proposal Submission Guidance for information on how to prepare and submit your proposal. There, you’ll also find information on the proposal selection process and the discounts and scholarship opportunities available to speakers.

Learn more and submit a Rally session proposal by November 10.


I’m working with [Orange and West Orange, NJ] to be able to make sure that [Orange] is beautiful as well. Because when construction took place, it was left, and it was forgotten about. So that’s what really didn’t sit right with me, to know that once it gets to our city that it is not pretty, it’s not something nice to see.

Sharee is one of Flow Funder Daniel Joseph Wiley’s flow fund recipients.

Listen to Sharee and Daniel’s conversation about their community work.


Learn with us! Two NEW series joined our Online Learning Platform last month: one bringing our Drinking Water Guide to life and another diving deep into the Clean Water Act (CWA) through our Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual.

All are FREE and available to all. Explore today and begin using these tools to support water access and quality in your community.

Learn more and sign up for the Drinking Water Guide series and the Clean Water Act series.

While we know that implementation of critical water projects and policies ultimately comes down to the local level, federal funding is an important resource, providing communities and cities with the dollars they need to carry out this important work. River Network is committed to supporting our network to understand, influence, and access this current funding to ensure that it addresses the country’s most critical water needs, and to build the capacity of local organizations—who know their communities best—to engage in water infrastructure decision-making for the long term. 

In our new federal funding hub you’ll find information, resources, and other materials focused on helping you understand key federal programs through which these funds are flowing to communities to address climate resilience; safe, affordable drinking water; and healthy rivers.

Visit the Tapping Into Federal Funding hub.

UWLN Learning Series: Building Water Equity & Climate Resilient Communities for ALL

October 18, 10am PT / 1pm ET

Join us for part three of our six-part series, highlighting a variety of strategies that community-based organizations can use to help their communities anticipate, prepare for and respond to climate risks. This third session will share examples of community-based organizations that are investing in developing community leaders to build momentum for local water equity and climate resilience.

Tapping Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRFs) for Conservation

October 31, 2pm PT / 5pm ET

​​Recent federal legislation greatly increased the resources available to fight climate change and improve water quality through conservation. The Clean Water State Revolving Funds provide many of these resources to communities throughout the country. Join Land Trust Alliance to learn how your land trust can tap into this underutilized source of federal funding to protect land and improve water quality in your community.​

Register for Tapping CWSRFs for Conservation.

Hydro Training: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Licensing 101

November 1, 10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET

Join the Hydropower Reform Coalition for an introduction on how hydropower licensing works, what you can achieve during a project licensing, how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission works, and strategies for getting involved. This training is geared towards newer hydropower practitioners, but there is something for everyone to learn. We will have lots of time for discussion, so come with questions.

Register for FERC Licensing 101.

Summit on Climate & Environmental Justice, Racism & the Law

November 16-17; Durham, NC

Taproot Earth’s Just Transition Lawyering Network and partners are excited to share a Save the Date for a Summit on Climate and Environmental Justice, Racism, and the Law. This will be a space for frontline advocates, lawyers, and scholars–particularly those working on climate, environmental, energy, water, and land justice–to come together, share information, engage in political and legal education, build consensus around law and organizing strategies, and advance just solutions rooted in Civil Rights and Black Liberation. Space is limited!

Learn more about the Summit and apply to attend.

2024 Riparian Restoration Conference: Restoration for the Future

March 5-7, 2024; Grand Junction, Colorado

Join RiversEdge West and over 200 river restoration professionals for a conference emphasizing building resilience in our rivers and riparian ecosystems, as well as the surrounding human communities. How can we support climate resilience in riparian restoration work? How can we ensure that restoration work has lasting impacts that benefit both ecological and human communities?

Learn more about the Riparian Restoration Conference and submit an abstract.

What We’re Reading

  • 📖 As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance – Leanne Betasamosake Simpson locates Indigenous political resurgence as a practice rooted in uniquely Indigenous theorizing, writing, organizing, and thinking. She calls for unapologetic, place-based Indigenous alternatives to the destructive logics of the settler colonial state, including heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalist exploitation.
  • 💻 “What is Ethical Space?” – Deepen your understanding of the Indigenous worldview with a 30-minute video led by Gwen Bridge, and hosted by Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. Dive into Ethical Space and the roots of conflict within the hierarchical legislative frameworks of Indigenous and colonial societies and the challenges of understanding the legislative roles.

  • 📰 “USDA invests $1 billion for nearly 400 projects to expand access to trees and green spaces in communities and neighborhoods nationwide through Investing in America agenda” – Congrats to many network members who have received funding from the USDA & USFS through the Urban and Community Forestry Program. River Network is honored to have been selected with our partners as a National Pass Through Partner under this program and we look forward to sharing more information on our role soon!

  • 📖 Into the River of Angels: A Novel – 2012 River Hero George R. Wolfe’s young adult adventure novel, Into the River of Angels, tells how a high school kid’s ill-conceived plan to canoe the Los Angeles River spirals out of control—an urban journey on a dangerous, forbidden waterway, woven together by a series of epic fails.

The "Urban Waters Speak" logo with a green outline of a cityscape and blue waves underneath is left of a photo of Candida Rodriguez, with brown curly hair wearing a bright blue button down shirt.“In order for any process or any change to be sustainable, involving and engaging the community is really important. But one thing that’s even more important is actually being intentional about it. Because this not only empowers people but makes them part of the of that process, and it allows them to take ownership of the changes that are going to be carried out or are currently being carried out.”

Listen in on a recent Urban Waters Member Highlight conversation with Candida Rodriguez—Director of Community Relations at Groundwork Hudson Valley—to hear more about climate action in Yonkers, NY. There are more opportunities to engage with the UWLN in the Building Water Equity and Climate Resilient Communities for ALL Learning Series.