The goal of Environment Now's Coastal Program is to eliminate pollution and stop the degradation of California's coastal ecosystems by:
- Growing and strengthening the Waterkeeper movement in California and Baja California Sur
- Enforcing existing environmental laws through grassroots advocacy and litigation
- Developing and launching new initiatives to take on otherwise unaddressed threats to California's coastal resources
The Coastal Program exists to protect the California coastline from environmental degradation by eliminating the sources of pollution in coastal waters, preventing damage to the watershed from unsustainable land-use patterns, and restoring ecosystems suffering from human encroachment.
The Waterkeeper Movement
In 1993,Environment Now launched the Santa Monica Baykeeper, the first Waterkeeper in Southern California. Over the next 13 years, Environment Now helped establish a picket line of Waterkeepers along the entire Southern California coast. Additionally, in 1999, Environment Now established the California Coastkeeper Alliance to coordinate and support the work of California’s Waterkeepers, and to effect change on a statewide level. In 2005, Environment Now expanded its focus toward developing Waterkeeper programs along California’s rivers and the coast of Baja California, Mexico. This year, there are 12 Waterkeeper programs in California and 6 in Baja. Today, growing and strengthening the Waterkeeper movement continues to be a major component of Environment Now’s Coastal Program.
What is a Waterkeeper?
A Waterkeeper is a grassroots, citizen watchdog organization that advocates for compliance with environmental laws, responds to citizen complaints, identifies problems affecting the water body it is charged with protecting, and devises appropriate remedies to address the problems. A Waterkeeper is equal parts investigator, scientist, lawyer, lobbyist, educator, and public relations agent. A Waterkeeper's clients are all of the users of the represented water body and watershed. Waterkeepers employ a variety of strategies to enforce environmental laws, including operating volunteer water quality monitoring programs; responding directly to tips received on their pollution hotlines; educating the public; and when necessary taking legal action. Waterkeepers also restore habitat, such as wetlands and kelp forests.
California and Baja California
To report a polluter or polluted area in California,
Each Waterkeeper program is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a growing international movement founded by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and John Cronin (the Hudson Riverkeeper) in 1992. Now, there are almost 200 Waterkeeper programs across the United States and internationally. To learn more about the Waterkeeper Alliance, please visit www.waterkeeper.org.
Enforcement of Environmental Laws
Another major component of Environment Now's Coastal Program is supporting grassroots advocacy and litigation by nonprofit organizations to strengthen and enforce the Clean Water Act and other laws intended to protect California's coastal resources.
Another major component of Environment Now’s Coastal Program is developing and drawing on our network of program partners to launch new initiatives that take on otherwise unaddressed threats to California’s coastal resources. In 2006, Environment Now began addressing the threats posed by large-scale, seawater desalination plants proposed along California’s coast. These desalination plants will be co-located with coastal power plants so that they can use the power plants’ harmful once-through-cooling (OTC) systems to obtain the seawater necessary to run the desal plants. OTC systems primarily damage the environment by sucking-in, trapping and killing marine life as part of operating their open-ocean intake pipes. Co-location of desal plants with power plants using OTC will prevent the power plants from upgrading to less harmful cooling technologies and prolong the use of their outdated and damaging OTC systems.
For more information regarding the threats of desal, please visit: Desal Response Group