The international Waterkeeper Alliance Conference was held in Deer Valley, UT, from June 7-11. The representation was amazing as always: 300 people, more than 300 organizations, 35 countries, six continents. The elevation (7,000 feet) was a bit difficult, but the views were well worth it!
Doing on-the-ground, in-the-courts water protection work in the U.S. – nonetheless worldwide – is like a scientific experiment. Everyone tries different approaches with different variables. Once a year, we are able to come together to discuss and learn about what has achieved success elsewhere to hopefully recreate results in our setting. This is invaluable perspective to look outside of the Carolinas bubble it’s easy to stay trapped in.
The week’s sessions are led by both Waterkeepers and independent experts. What are nutrient limits in discharge permits elsewhere in the country? What is the up-to-date research on the toxin microcystin, which can be produced in algae blooms and cause major problems for drinking water? How do we better organize and engage volunteers, especially for water quality monitoring? How are Waterkeepers in China or Latin America having to approach water quality issues?
Deer Valley’s own approach to water quality was interesting. On a hike up the mountain to its drinking water reservoir, not only was it gorgeous and full of snow melt, it had a fence around it (not unlike many parts of the country but certainly not the southeast). Can you imagine a fence around any of our 11 reservoirs? The standards for protection are different elsewhere.
The Waterkeeper movement is strong, with more than 320 individual, full-time programs worldwide. Catawba Riverkeeper was an early adopter as the 20th now in our 20th year. With knowledge gained and ideas sprouting, we are excited and reinvigorated to bring new tools in our work with all of you to protect the water of the Catawba-Wateree River basin.