Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc.


  • Energy and Environment, Clean Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

  • Global Programs

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  • Public charity

  • $9,921,169

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Executive Summary

Pollution from manufacturing, farming, mining, energy production, human waste and livestock is destroying the water we need to live. At the same time, water supplies are shrinking from changes in our climate. Fresh water shortages are at the root of many conflicts and will likely be at the center of the next global crisis. Waterkeeper Alliance's Project Osiris will protect a quarter of the world's habitable watersheds that provide drinking water to more than one third of the world's population within six years. With a proven track record and a scalable model, Waterkeeper Alliance recruits and trains local Waterkeepers to patrol waters, discover pollution, hold polluters accountable, advocate for clean water, strengthen legal protection and raise public awareness about local water threats to increase pressure for action. Waterkeeper Alliance is ready to transform the local fight for clean water into a powerful, coordinated global movement.

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The Problem

Water is essential for life. Safe, abundant water is vital to our ability to prosper and to fulfill our potential. Without it, we face a continual decline in our well being, poverty and hunger, and increasing levels of conflict. H.E. Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique About 70% of the world is covered in water, but only 2.5% of total water is freshwater. Without including icecaps and glaciers, only 0.007% of the water on Earth is usable for drinking. Pollution is increasing and water resources are shrinking at an accelerating pace. The scope and scale of water pollution is staggering every day, two million tons of sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are discharged into the world's water, the equivalent of the weight of the entire human population. Contaminated water sickens and kills - more people die from unsafe water annually than from all forms of violence, including war. Water resources are shrinking the UN estimates than in less than 10 years, 48 nations will face freshwater scarcity. As communities, regions, and nations grapple with determining and implementing solutions, entities are aggressively and sometimes illegally undermining the basic human right to clean water. There are dozens of nonprofit organizations that work effectively on water issues, and a number that work on water issues as part of a broader mission. An external review didn't find any organization that has Waterkeeper Alliance's singular focus on clean water, using an action oriented model and unique combination of grassroots activists connected to a powerful global network.

Proposed Solution

Project Osiris will be a giant leap forward to a world where drinkable, fishable, swimmable water for everyone is a common priority and shared reality. We agree with Bill McKibben that the kind of movement we need is one that has thousands of leaders in thousands of places, connected like the solar panels on the roofs of an entire planet. The Waterkeeper Alliance model of legally and scientifically based citizen action and enforcement has proven effective and self sustaining in numerous communities across the globe. Local Waterkeepers follow a standard method of operation, are linked to Waterkeeper Alliance and a global network of Waterkeepers. In places where there are laws and regulations against pollution, Waterkeepers ensure that the laws are strengthened and enforced. In countries where there are no working regulatory or legal constraints, the Waterkeeper creates a powerful community movement for clean water. In this way, trained, local Waterkeepers are the fastest way to get around one of the biggest impediments to addressing the global water problem - a lack of laws and regulations. Because they are not outsiders, Waterkeepers have deep credibility with a personal stake in the water they protect. They leverage their local knowledge and influence to organize their community and protect their local water. Their work is self sustaining, and often, they become local heroes. Through Project Osiris, Waterkeepers will patrol and protect six million square miles of the most vulnerable habitable watersheds, protecting water for at least one third of the planet's people within six years.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Project Osiris builds on the successful Waterkeeper model that has been tested in 34 countries across a wide range of challenges and experiences. Every place there is a Waterkeeper, there is a dedicated, effective local effort fighting for clean water. These local actions leverage power and resources from Waterkeeper Alliance's resources and global network. This work is scalable and with the right support and resources can be rapidly expanded to address the most endangered habitable watersheds around the globe. Examples of Waterkeepers in action: A Waterkeeper in Senegal led the fight against pollution that has long impoverished fishermen, sickened villagers, and fouled beaches. He convinced the Government of Senegal, the French Development Agency and the European Investment Bank to commit $68 million to cleanup Hann Bay and helped suspend construction of a coal fired power plant; Waterkeepers in North Carolina helped achieve a $102 million fine against Duke Energy and a $3 billion cleanup of its coal ash sites; Waterkeepers in China developed a protocol for resolving water problems outside the courts to improve water quality more quickly; The Maule Itata Coastkeeper in Chile stopped the construction of the Los Robles coal fired power plant; and Los Angeles Waterkeeper settled a $2 billion lawsuit against City of Los Angeles after years of sewage spills polluted the Santa Monica bay. The City was required to replace 488 miles of sewer lines, clean 2800 miles of sewers annually and pay $8.5 million to projects dedicated to improving water quality in Los Angeles.

Previous Performance

Waterkeeper Alliance has a clear mission, a proven record and a scalable model that can be used to launch Project Osiris.Waterkeeper Alliance already provides expert training and capacity building, legal and scientific expertise, communications support and broad based campaigns. Our team of legal, policy and advocacy experts, as well as our highly experienced operations, development, and communications teams will be involved in meeting the goals and deliverables of this project. To date, Waterkeeper Alliance has expanded the number of Waterkeepers organically, from 34 in 1999 to 301 today. Given the current scale and scope of pollution and other threats to waterways around the globe, this pace is too slow. Project Osiris is a bold initiative, built on 17 years of experience in 34 countries across 6 continents, to scale up at a pace to meet the urgent threats we face. The dedicated and passionate core team of eight will build this effort based on their combined experience in the resolute defense of environmental laws and training of Waterkeepers to be the local community's investigator, scientist, lawyer, powerbroker and public relations agent.

The Team

Team Purpose

Waterkeeper Alliance is the largest and fastest growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water. Our goal is drinkable, fishable, and swimmable water, everywhere. Our story started in 1966 when commercial and recreational fishermen united to save the Hudson River. They took on many of the nation's biggest industrial polluters and won. They hired a full time Waterkeeper to patrol the Hudson, and their success spurred similar grassroots efforts around the world. Waterkeeper Alliance was founded by Waterkeepers to superpower their work and turn individual local efforts into a powerful network. Anyone carrying the name Waterkeeper must meet the Alliance's high standards for ethics, conduct and effectiveness. With experience in 34 countries across 6 continents and with threats to water growing exponentially, Waterkeeper Alliance developed Project Osiris to protect one quarter of the world's most vulnerable habitable watersheds in six years.

Team Structure

Waterkeeper Alliance is led by an experienced 13 person Board of Directors and operated by a skilled staff of 25 employees. With 20 years working in the Waterkeeper movement, Marc Yaggi serves as Executive Director. Project Osiris will be guided by Marc and implemented by five new teams: A Recruiting Department will recruit new Waterkeepers, license and maintain standards; A Training Department will share information about effective practices so that local Waterkeeper organizations benefit from the experience and strength of the Alliance; An Advocacy Department will build coalitions and run campaigns to fight pollution; A Science Department will provide scientific expertise and advice to Waterkeepers; A Waterkeeper Organizer Department will unite Waterkeepers as a powerful global force and organize their collective action. The Project will be supported by existing Communications, Development,? Legal and Operations Departments. Waterkeeper Alliance manages projects with detailed strategic plans, supported by clear metrics and detailed in annual work plans. Project Osiris will be assessed monthly and reported to the Board of Directors. The Board uses an effectiveness assessment policy to help ensure that there are defined, measurable goals and objectives in place to evaluate the success and impact of projects.