November 22, 2017

Clean Water for All—the Water Protection Movement You’ve Been Waiting For

As a young girl growing up on the banks of the South River in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I had easy access to swimming in clean water, boating, tubing, fishing, skipping rocks, and feeding the ducks—all pastimes that Americans have enjoyed for generations. As a child, I only knew water as fun, but it is so much more than that.

Water is essential to life and to the health and well-being of every plant and animal on the planet, including humans. It is difficult to overstate its importance, but nevertheless we tend to take it for granted—until it is depleted or contaminated. As Ben Franklin said, “When the well’s run dry, we know the worth of water.”

South River in the Shenandoah Valley (1)

At the Pisces Foundation, we know well the worth of water and support efforts to unite people around our shared commitment to safe, clean, affordable water. We believe that new thinking, technologies, and ready-to-go solutions can provide us with safe water from every tap, farms that grow food without polluting waterways, cities strengthened by cleaner lakes and rivers, and enough water for both people and nature.

Our waterways are at risk and threaten clean, safe, and abundant water for all communities, today and into the future. However, there are promising efforts to turn the tide.

One of the efforts we support, the Clean Water for All Campaign, is hard at work building the coalition for water resource protection we want and need to provide clean and safe water for all communities. Created in 2017, the campaign seeks to build a broad, diverse, national movement to drive change around the shared causes of:

  • Defending and expanding clean water protections;
  • Expanding investment in sustainable, equitable water infrastructure; and
  • Reducing nutrient pollution for positive public health outcomes and stronger ecosystems.

This campaign is broad and inclusive. It includes not just environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts, but also people working on social justice, public and community health, sustainable businesses, labor, and faith-based issues. A broad coalition of all parties with a stake in this fight is critical to advocating for the key protections we want and need.

Over the course of the last 45 years, since the creation of the Clean Water Act in 1972, protections have been adopted with fair public involvement to ensure the safety of drinking water flowing out of taps in our homes and schools, protect the clean water sources used to keep commerce and industry productive in our communities, and recharge natural water resources for ecosystems and our collective enjoyment.

Yet programs that protect water bodies, large and small across the nation, are now in danger of being eliminated and legal protections for those waters are being rolled back. Even the most iconic waters—the Great Lakes, Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, San Francisco Bay, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, and the Everglades—are not immune to these threats.

The Great Lakes, Puget Sound, and Chesapeake Bay (2)

Recognizing that resource priorities vary geographically, the Clean Water for All Campaign is flexible and adaptable, with clear regional and local benefits, in addition to its national policy goals. The campaign is working to:

  • Reduce the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest ever measured
  • Minimize toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie that destroy fisheries and threaten drinking water sources
  • Restore depleted groundwater supplies in the West and Midwest
  • Clean contaminated drinking water in our cities
  • Support strong protections at the federal level as well as the local level to address these threats to our nation’s health, livelihood, and security

Clean Water for All is built on the values and vision for the future that Americans share. Clean, safe, abundant water is essential to our economy, to our quality of life, and to the health of our communities and the natural world.

At the Pisces Foundation, we are proud to support Clean Water for All’s goal of ensuring everyone in the U.S. has access to safe, clean water. The Clean Water for All Campaign represents a major undertaking by a diverse group of stakeholders to begin the process of creating a national movement of the breath and magnitude needed to overcome the challenges of today and those to come.

To form the diverse coalition we need, we must be willing to coalesce, to learn about each other’s needs, and unite for a common end. As the oceanographer Sylvia Earle famously said, “Without blue, there is no green.” To live and grow requires safe, clean, and abundant water. We must act now to ensure future access to this most important resource, using the best talents, tools, and resources we have to protect our waters against all threats. This important work will help ensure that people and nature can indeed thrive together.



(1) Photo credits: Shenandoah River Tubing and NBC29
(2) Photo credits: Lake Superior (Bryan Hansel), Puget Sound (ECOconnect), and Chesapeake Bay (Washingtonian)