A Message from the New President
It is great to be back on the Potomac!
Of course, I didn’t have far to go. I’ve spent the past six years as founder and president of the C&O Canal Trust, though some of you may know me from my eight years prior to that as president of Potomac Conservancy. And if you are deep into Potomac trivia, you may even recall I helped found Potomac Riverkeeper back in 2000.
I am particularly excited about the tools Potomac Riverkeeper has at its disposal to prevent and stop pollution. Stepping away from river conservation work for the past half dozen years has given me a good perspective on this. While there are a number of organizations doing good work in this region, I’ve observed all too many others that simply talk about how they are “fighting” to clean up the river or the bay while encouraging more “dialogue” and “cooperation.” I wonder how long these groups are going to be able to put lipstick on a pig.
There’s no mystery to any of this. If you want to stop pollution, you have to be prepared to take real, meaningful action. As my predecessor, Ed Merrifield always says, you can’t rely entirely on voluntary or market-based solutions. We have to give polluters enforceable deadlines, ensure verification, provide opportunities for public involvement, and make the whole process transparent. Sometimes you even have to be prepared to use litigation to protect the public’s right to clean water. It couldn’t be clearer.
Potomac Riverkeeper has a number of challenges in front of it. The sources of pollution are diffuse and varied. Regulators too often seem to see their job as helping polluters squeeze as much “allowable” pollution as possible under the Clean Water Act as opposed to stopping pollution. Residents of the area aren’t aware of the source of their drinking water or the threats posed by various pollutants. Getting clear, unbiased information about your water quality is difficult.
Potomac Riverkeeper is going to be working over the next several years on all of these fronts, but we will need your help. We are going to be training a new generation of citizen monitors—Riverwatchers— and providing them with new tools so they can better alert us, in real time, to pollution as it happens. We are going to bolster our legal muscle to better utilize the enforcement aspects of the Clean Water Act. We will build our membership to help us spread the word about the importance of clean water to our communities, neighborhoods, and families. And we are going to raise more money to ensure that clean, healthy water is available to everyone.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me and share your ideas about what we can do to help protect the incomparable Potomac River. I look forward to hearing from you!
President & Potomac Riverkeeper