Reclaiming Our Right to Clean Water: Supporting Waterkeepers Chesapeake’s Clean Water Act 50th Anniversary Campaign

By Hazel Horvath, Senior Associate

Clean water is for everyone. We need it to keep our bodies healthy, our communities safe, and our economies strong. In the United States, more than half of our local rivers and streams fail to meet basic state water quality standards. In fact, some waterways are so polluted, it’s illegal to swim in them. Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a coalition of 17 independent Waterkeeper programs from the Chesapeake Bay Region, is working to change that.

Waterkeepers are the protectors of the Clean Water Act and other clean water laws, protecting our communities from pollution, and holding polluters accountable. By sharing resources and drawing on individual strengths, Waterkeepers Chesapeake uses grassroots advocacy to promote the Clean Water Act while focusing on local, regional, and global water crisis issues from pollution to climate change.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a revolutionary federal law that has protected our waterways by placing pollution limits on what companies and utilities were allowed to dispose of into our waterways and giving affected communities the power to enforce the law and protect their families. Waterkeepers Chesapeake is celebrating this important milestone through its Clean Water Act 50th Anniversary campaign.

“The 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act is an opportunity to catalyze our past successes into a cleaner, more just future,” said Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “Together, we can harness the energy, success, and momentum of the past five decades to face today’s challenges and obtain clean water justice for everyone. Where polluters have not been held accountable and clean water protections have been weakened, we need to reclaim our right to clean water, empower communities, and demand equal justice and access to clean water.”

Waterkeepers brought Hatcher in during its planning stages to provide communications support. We led a messaging session with the team to identify core content to clearly communicate the importance of the campaign and Waterkeepers’ goals. Hatcher also created social media content and wrote and pitched a press release on the campaign to reach a wider audience.

Throughout the spring and summer, Waterkeepers will hold “on-the-water” events along the Bay, as well as host workshops and community forums to celebrate, educate, and advocate for clean water. There’s also a Global Conference planned in the nation’s capital hosted by the Waterkeeper Alliance, the parent organization to Waterkeepers Chesapeake, and a River Rally hosted by River Network, a sister organization to Waterkeepers Chesapeake. The campaign will culminate with celebrations in October in Washington, DC, and around the country.

Beyond 2022, the work will — and must — continue. Waterkeepers Chesapeake will continue to listen to what local communities need and design tools and training to help them advocate for their citizens and leverage their power to make change.

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