(EnviroNews Utah) — Marc Yaggi, Executive Director for Waterkeeper Alliance, sat down on June 8, 2017, with EnviroNews Utah reporter Michael Orton in Park City, Utah to discuss the organization’s purpose. “Waterkeeper Alliance is an international movement uniting more than 320 locally-based clean water advocacy organizations and focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change,” Yaggi explained.
An attorney by trade, Yaggi previously worked with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. and with Riverkeeper, Inc. in New York. He was in Utah for the annual Waterkeeper Alliance International Conference where members came from around the globe for a week of training and education.
“Our world’s water resources are in peril,” said Yaggi. “Every day, about two million tons of pollution is dumped into our world’s waterways and it’s making people sick.”
The organization focuses its efforts around three major campaigns. Its “Clean and Safe Energy” campaign seeks to prevent water pollution coming from fossil fuel extraction and use. Among the top concerns are coal ash waste from mining, threats to aquifers from fracking activities and oil spills from pipelines and rail transport.
Waterkeeper’s “Clean Water Defense” campaign emphasizes legal protections for clean rivers, better public access to waterways and ecosystem protection and restoration. The organization’s “Pure Farms, Pure Waters” effort addresses industrial agriculture and the runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that enters rivers and lakes, often untreated.
Yaggi said the NGO’s members are on the ground patrolling 2.5 million square miles of watershed around the world. “One of the key things we do is making sure that polluters are complying with laws,” he told EnviroNews Utah.
He urged people who care about clean water to run for office, saying that is the movement’s most important need going forward. He’s also drawn up an ambitious 20-year plan for Waterkeeper Alliance. “We’re looking at how we can, over the next 20 years, significantly invest in the support we provide these local advocates to make sure they are the best and brightest water advocates on the planet,” Yaggi explained — and to “grow our movement strategically so that we can have one of these advocates on every waterway.”