Waterkeeper Alliance connects and supports local Waterkeeper programs to provide a voice for waterways and their communities worldwide. To champion clean water and strong communities, Waterkeeper Alliance:

Waterkeeper Alliance Member
  1. Supports and empowers member Waterkeeper organizations to protect communities, ecosystems and water quality;
  2. Promotes the Waterkeeper model for watershed protection worldwide; and
  3. Advocates for issues common to Waterkeeper programs.

Each Waterkeeper program reflects the needs of the waterbody and community it represents.

The common thread for each Waterkeeper program is a full-time person who serves as the Waterkeeper, the public advocate for that body of water.

Waterkeepers are part investigator, scientist, lawyer, and advocate. Think of a Waterkeeper's "clients" as all the users of the watershed for which the Waterkeeper advocates. A successful advocate has a diverse bag of tools that allows her or him as the Waterkeeper to get the job done. All Waterkeepers also have a boat ranging in size from canoes to research vessels, but sometimes a pair of hip boots is more important than a boat. Sometimes a legal brief is more important than either. Each waterbody has its own unique challenges requiring a distinct and well-defined strategy.

All Waterkeeper programs must be formal organizations. Whether you intend to structure your Waterkeeper program under the umbrella of an existing organization or start your own organization, there must be a non-profit 501(c)(3) or (4) entity sponsoring the Waterkeeper program.

Lastly, membership and active participation in the Alliance are requirements of becoming, and remaining, a Waterkeeper program.

For more information on the history of the Waterkeeper Movement see Charles Scribner’s 2005 thesis, The History of Waterkeeper Alliance: An International Grassroots Movement Flows from the Hudson.


Waterkeeper Alliance Network

Waterkeeper Alliance is the international center of a network of Waterkeeper programs. The Alliance approves new Waterkeeper programs, licenses the use of the Waterkeeper names, represents the individual Waterkeepers on issues of national interest, and serves as a meeting place for all the Waterkeepers to exchange information, strategy and know-how. The Alliance and its member Waterkeeper groups meet at least once a year, rotating between regions, and communicates regularly in the interim.


The Waterkeeper Family of Names

The 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. We have protected the names under federal trademark law.

By protecting the names we can prevent their misuse. As a result, we require users to obtain a trademark license from us and meet standards of performance to ensure the Waterkeeper family of names is used in a way consistent with our mission. Using this approach enabled us to stop a land speculator on the Upper Delaware River from usurping the Riverkeeper name for the purpose of defeating water quality regulations. Our goal is to ensure that anytime you see a Waterkeeper name, you will know that the user is part of Waterkeeper Alliance and adheres to our standards and advocacy philosophy, has explicit permission to use the name and has signed a license to do so.