River Voices: September 2021

Welcome to the September 2021 edition of River Voices. This month, we’re diving into water policy under the Biden Administration and new Congress so far and there’s just one month left to join or renew your River Network membership at a 20% discount.

Our thoughts are with network members impacted by Hurricane Ida – learn what you can do to help here and from the Urban Waters Learning Network.

Image by Michael Wilson from Pixabay
Image by Michael Wilson from Pixabay

Like many across the network, when the Biden Administration and the new Congress began their work at the start of this year, our Policy Team began hopefully anticipating what they would do help ensure more people have access to safe, clean, affordable water and our communities have healthy, resilient waterways. Now that we are seven months in, let’s review what has been accomplished, what’s left to do, and the biggest opportunities and threats on the horizon.

Read more.


“I think that more education is needed in order to build momentum for water policy… [Water contamination] could be happening to you, in Chicago, in your apartment, and you wouldn’t even know.”

Iyana currently serves as the Clean Water Policy Director at the Illinois Environmental Council.

Meet Iyana.


For 28 years, River Network membership has been here to serve you with the knowledge, mentorship, peer support, and resources you need to succeed.

Join or renew your premium membership today at 20% off to join a community that’s more remote, but more connected, than ever.

Learn more.


River Rally will be heading to Washington, DC, in June 2022. Join us in accelerating the pace of progress toward a sustainable and equitable water future and submit a workshop or field trip proposal or nominate a River Hero!

Submissions and nominations close on October 15.

Learn more.

Explore Our Work: Robust & Effective Water Laws & Policies

Well-crafted, enforced, and fully funded water laws and policies at the local, state, and federal levels safeguard the health of our rivers and the security of our drinking water. River Network leverages our network and our influence to defend protections vital to our environment and communities. We have deep experience in explaining how community members can get involved in policy development, translating water-related policies for local adoption and enforcement, connecting advocates with decision-makers, and synthesizing the state of the field in select water policy areas. 

Read more to learn about River Network’s work related to water laws and policies, and connect with our staff working on these issues.

Trash Free Waters in Central Alabama with Freshwater Land Trust

Check out the latest video from Freshwater Land Trust on their in-stream trash removal project in Central Alabama. We were honored to include them as one of the first two locations where we awarded a grant to install these “litter gitters,” thanks to support from Coca-Cola. Initially, the project was slated to run for just three month, but it was extended to install another trap in a different location… now they’re up to 10 devices!

Watch the series.


To address today’s water crisis, the national network of water protectors needs strong leaders. That’s why Building Strong Champions is the essence of River Network’s mission. At its core, Building Strong Champions is building the capacity of individuals and organizations. This blog post is the third in our series highlighting this work: professional development, a must have for every nonprofit organization.

Read more.

Science Corner: Managing River Health Assessment Data

The latest from our science team.

Looking for a better understanding of how to approach data management in Stream Management Planning? Watch our latest “Ask a Practioner” interview with Stacy Beaugh (Strategic by Nature, Hannah Holm (Director, Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center at Colorado Mesa University), and Seth Mason (Principle Hydrologist, Lotic Hydrological) to discuss their approaches and experience with managing the vast amounts of data that typically result from a river health assessment. Seth and Hannah cover two aspects of data within the stream management process: understanding the data management and synthesis needs for an SMP, and how and when to create a plan. More information can be found in the explanation of the Assess Conditions part of the SMP process.

Events & Learning Opportunities

Source Water Protection Week: September 26 – October 2

The American Water Works Association (AWWA), a member of the Source Water Collaborative, is launching a new Source Water Protection Week starting this year on September 26 – October 2. AWWA invites water utilities, AWWA sections, states, and other partners to join in on raising awareness about the importance of protecting drinking water sources during this week. Download the materials you can use to celebrate the week such as logos, social media graphics and posts, and proclamations from the AWWA website.

Fostering Community Leadership Learning Session

Sept. 9, 2p ET / 11a PT
Hear from Defensores de la Cuenca and Wellington Water Watchers about how they’ve leaned into the design and planning process to build two unique and responsive Leadership Development programs with River Network support.


Make Your Citizen Science Project Count: Strategies to Produce Quality Data

Sept. 15, 1p ET / 10a PT
Join this EPA webinar to learn how citizen science groups have successfully integrated quality assurance approaches into their projects to help answer their community’s environmental and public health questions.


Meaningful State-Tribe Communication on Water Quality

Sept. 29, 1p ET / 10a PT
Join this National 303(d)/TMDL Webinar Series for a webinar providing perspectives on government-to-government communication and relationship building between states and tribes to address water quality issues.


Inclusive River Recreation Outreach Strategies

Oct. 1, 2p ET / 11a PT
Explore case studies with the Wild & Scenic Rivers Coalition that showcase how local groups are intentionally creating welcoming spaces and engaging Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to enjoy and protect Wild & Scenic Rivers across the country.

Save this link to join on 10/1.

Member News & Tips

Most Endangered Rivers Nominations Are Open for 2022!

Is your river facing a decision in the coming year that will impact its fate? America’s Most Endangered Rivers® is the most influential national campaign to galvanize public action and secure victories for rivers, clean water and communities. Every year, American Rivers generates a report and media blast on 10 rivers at a crossroads where an upcoming action could make or break the future health of the river. They are now accepting nominations for our 2022 report from interested groups throughout the United States.

Nominate your river by Sept. 30.

Congrats to Earthjustice and the Tribes They Represented! Dirty Water Rule Victory

In late August, six tribes represented by Earthjustice won their lawsuit before the US district court for the District of Arizona resulting in the Dirty Water Rule being thrown out NATIONWIDE, affording “new protections for drinking-water supplies for millions of Americans, as well as for thousands of wildlife species that depend on America’s wetland acreage.” The court ruled that the rule has the potential to cause serious harm if it remains in place while the EPA drafts a new rule.

Read more.

News – River Network Board Members Past & Present

Our congrats to current board member Sandra Postel and former board member Chuck Sams! Earlier this year, Sandra was named 2021 Stockholm Water Prize laureate “for her long and outstanding work help us to make sense of complex water issues.” She received the award at an online ceremony on August 25.

Also in August, Chuck was nominated to lead the National Park Service. If confirmed, he would be the first Native American in the post.

What We’re Reading

Writing Wild – By Kathryn Aalto, this compilation of women writers, poets, scholars, scientists, and more who write about nature and the environment has earned the praise of many of our staff members this summer.

“The Southwest’s looming water battle” – A new interactive digital article from CNN provides a comprehensive look at the Colorado River and those who depend on it.

Climate Change and Social Vulnerability in the United States: A Focus on Six Impact SectorsThis new analysis from EPA shows that the most severe harms from climate change fall disproportionately upon underserved communities who are least able to prepare for, and recover from, heat waves, poor air quality, flooding, and other impacts. EPA’s analysis indicates that racial and ethnic minority communities are particularly vulnerable to the greatest impacts of climate change.