The Waterkeeper Alliance: Our Partner In Clean Water

The Waterkeeper Alliance: Our Partner In Clean Water

By Mackensie duPont Crowley, communications specialist


Established in 2000, the Waterkeeper Alliance is the largest and fastest-growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water. They preserve and protect water by connecting local Waterkeeper groups worldwide, and have a goal of fully drinkable, fishable, swimmable water everywhere. Save The Bay’s own Baykeeper, Coastkeeper and Riverkeeper are all members of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

The original Save The Bay Baykeeper took to the water in 1993 as a dynamic, on-the-water presence, whose role was dedicated to defending the environmental integrity of Narragansett Bay. Our Baykeeper officially joined the Waterkeeper Alliance as the eighth designated Waterkeeper when the alliance was formed eight years later.

Coastkeeper Dave Prescott and Riverkeeper Kate McPherson trawl for microplastics

Following the success of our Baykeeper as a watchdog and responder to incidents of pollution on Narragansett Bay, we replicated the model in 2007, with the addition of a Coastkeeper to tackle Little Narragansett Bay, the Pawcatuck River, and the south coast. Most recently, Save The Bay added a Riverkeeper to the team in 2016 to monitor Narragansett Bay’s tributary watershed, including the Blackstone, Ten Mile, Runnings, Palmer, Kickemuit, Cole, Lee and Taunton rivers. The Riverkeeper works closely with partners and agencies in Massachusetts, where 60 percent of narragansett Bay’s watershed is located.

Baykeeper Mike Jarbeau tests water quality in Narragansett Bay

Our Waterkeepers have a set of quality standards they must meet to maintain our partnership with the Waterkeeper Alliance. For example, each Waterkeeper must have a vessel that labels them as a Keeper, and keep a routine of active patrolling their respective waterways. Additionally, Save The Bay must have a physical office in the watershed and maintain a hotline for the public to report incidents of pollution: 1-800-NARR-BAY.

Our Baykeeper, Coastkeeper, and Riverkeeper leverage the Waterkeeper Alliance’s for training opportunities, submit joint comments on federal legislation, and attend regional summits. At the Global Waterkeeper Conference, Keepers can network and discuss various topics related to water advocacy. Meanwhile, our Coastkeeper, Dave Prescott, serves as the North Atlantic Regional Representative for the Waterkeeper Council, and our program has a strong history that the Alliance can use as a model of success.

The Waterkeeper Alliance boasts 350 member groups in 46 countries around the world. Today’s Waterkeepers help protect waterways from a broad range of threats, like pollution from failed or nonexistent wastewater treatment systems or our waste from industrial processes, while also leading the global fight for strong environmental regulations. Learn more about the Waterkeeper Alliance at