Becoming a Waterkeeper

If you believe that pollution and/or irresponsible management is threatening your community's water resources, or if you are fortunate to live near a water body that is not impacted by major pollution sources and want to ensure its future protection, establishing a local Waterkeeper program may be the answer. Waterkeeper Alliance can provide you with important technical and legal water protection tools, national and international visibility, and connections with other water protection advocates, necessary to ensure vigilant protection of your water body.

Benefits to starting a Waterkeeper program include:

  • Support with legal, scientific, fundraising and communication tools;
  • Enhanced name recognition and a share in our reputation for aggressive water protection;
  • Representation on national environmental issues common to all Waterkeeper programs;
  • A variety of forums to share strategies and experience with our active network of Waterkeepers around the globe; and
  • Access to Waterkeeper Alliance's members-only website, electronic resources and private message boards and listserv.

Waterkeeper Alliance's Board of Directors meets four times each year to approve prospective programs. For consideration, you must first contact our Field Coordinator, who will then guide you through the application process. Ultimately, you must submit a formal proposal to our Board of Directors reflecting your commitment to Waterkeeper Alliance's model of aggressive water protection - as well as your organizational vision and strategic plan for sustaining a healthy nonprofit organization and employing a full-time Waterkeeper on your local water body.

Once your proposal is approved, you will have immediate access to Waterkeeper Alliance resources and will be licensed to use Waterkeeper Alliance's trademarked name and logo to support your water protection efforts.

If you believe that forming a local Waterkeeper program would provide greater protection for the water resources in your community and you would like more information about establishing your own Waterkeeper program, please contact Waterkeeper Alliance's Field Coordinator, Thom Byrne at 914.674.0622, ext. 212.

Frequently Asked Questions

I've never considered myself an environmentalist, nor have I ever written a formal proposal, but I am dedicated to protecting my local water body - could I still make an effective Waterkeeper?

Of course! Many Waterkeepers never had any formal training in environmental advocacy before becoming involved in the Waterkeeper movement. That's why Waterkeeper Alliance exists - to support local environmental advocates and leaders develop water protection programs and to provide them with technical and legal assistance enforcement of environmental law. If you are passionate about water protection and you are willing to be a leader in the development of a Waterkeeper program, we will support you in that effort.

Why is permission necessary to use the Waterkeeper name?

Waterkeeper program names, such as "Riverkeeper," "Lakekeeper," "Baykeeper," "Coastkeeper" and others, are synonymous with effective citizen action. The effort both to promote and to protect these names has been organized and intentional. These terms have meaning only in connection with our organization. For this reason, they are protected names under trademark law. By protecting the names we can prevent their misuse. The law says that we can only protect the names if we require users as a first step to obtain a trademark license from us. Since we must also set quality standards for the use of Waterkeeper names, those standards were designed to reflect the purposes, goals and principles that have made Waterkeeper programs successful.

Does Waterkeeper Alliance provide funding for local Waterkeeper programs?

The Alliance does not provide funding for local programs. Each local Waterkeeper program must secure its own funding and charitable nonprofit status. However, affiliation with Waterkeeper Alliance will provide your organization with a recognizable and respected model for watershed protection when seeking certain types of funding, such as foundation grants. Waterkeeper Alliance's program support team can also provide your organization with advice on how to locate funding opportunities, prepare grant proposals and hold fundraising events.

Will Waterkeeper Alliance represent my organization in litigation?

Generally speaking, no. Waterkeeper Alliance does not have the resources to represent your organization in litigation. Our staff attorneys can provide you with technical support and legal advice as you develop cases against polluters. Furthermore, Waterkeeper Alliance's legal staff can put your organization in contact with environmental attorneys and legal clinics in your area.

Does it cost money to be licensed to use the Waterkeeper name?

Waterkeeper Alliance currently assesses an annual fee of US$250 dollars to cover a portion of the expenses of licensing your program and protecting our trademark. In your first year, this fee includes a free one-year membership with River Network (a US$150 value), and provides your organization with access to all Waterkeeper Alliance resources.

This site is developed and maintained by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.