Clean Water Advocacy in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

With the federal appropriations process in full swing, the Choose Clean Water Coalition is fighting for funding on Capitol Hill

Everyone wants it. It provides countless benefits to public health, local economies, and quality of life. With it, wildlife thrives, communities flourish, and anglers smile.

I’m talking of course, about clean water. And clean water is the goal in the Chesapeake Bay and its 64,000 square mile watershed spanning parts of six states and the District of Columbia. Home to more than 18 million people, protecting and restoring the Bay and its rivers and streams is paramount to the overall prosperity of the region.

Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

But attaining clean water isn’t easy – or cheap. The Choose Clean Water Coalition, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation, harnesses the collective power of more than 270 local, state, regional, and national groups to advocate for clean rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.

Every year, the Coalition hosts its “Chesapeake Bay Day on Capitol Hill,” where we gather members from throughout the watershed to meet with their representatives in Congress and advocate for a wide array of clean water policies. These asks range from support for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, passing the Environmental Justice for All Act, to ensuring strong investments for conservation programs in the Farm Bill. But the thread that ties together most of our objectives is clear – money. 

The Coalition is pursuing increased investments as the Bay and its rivers and streams are facing new and growing threats from impacts from climate change, rapid deforestation, and an increasing population throughout the watershed. The COVID-19 pandemic also delayed restoration projects and diverted resources.

Amidst these challenges, we need to accelerate restoration efforts and invest in critical programs that move us closer to clean water in our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. 

bird in habitat
Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

While the health of the Bay’s waterways is improving in the face of these challenges, progress is still very fragile.

We will not meet our water quality goals without the leadership, guidance, science, and funding support provided by various Federal agencies. With strong bipartisan support for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay, the Coalition has worked with members of Congress to successfully support strong investments in clean water programs. These programs improve communities and protect local waterways in every state in the region and the District of Columbia, while often also serving as a stimulus to local economies. 

With all that’s at stake, it’s no surprise that the Coalition’s Chesapeake Bay Day on Capitol Hill set new records this year, with 45 meetings with members of Congress and 162 organizations signing letters endorsing the Coalition’s appropriations asks.

Choose Clean Water Coalition’s Chesapeake Bay Day on Capitol Hill
Choose Clean Water Coalition’s Chesapeake Bay Day on Capitol Hill.

Alongside the tireless environmental advocates in our member organizations, the Coalition will continue fighting for every dollar and policy that moves us closer to leaving a legacy of clean water to future generations.