If you are looking for an alternative gift for a friend or family member who cares about conserving the world’s freshwater resources, you might consider a donation to a water conservation organization this holiday. According to the Nature Conservancy, two-thirds of the world’s population could face water shortages by 2025.
Here are five organizations that are doing great work to help the cause.
The Soil and Water Conservation Society
The Soil and Water Conservation Society has advocated science-based conservation since 1943. The nonprofit group organizes conservation forums and makes local recommendations on land and water conservation. Its more than 5,000 members include researchers, administrators, planners, policymakers, teachers, students, farmers, ranchers and administrators—all dedicated to preserving water as a natural resource. Its many activities are designed to develop state-of-the-art conservation systems, improve policy, and sustain ethics among conservationists through networking and mutual support.
Minnesota is known as the Land O’ Lakes, and Conservation Minnesota is dedicated to protecting the state’s invaluable lakes and rivers. After merging with Minnesota Waters earlier this year, the combined not-for-profit group is focused on helping citizen volunteers build grassroots networks of local lake, river and watershed associations to collect and use data for water policy advocacy. It provides water quality monitoring workshops, lake and river management training, funding resources, legislative forums, regional citizen summits and many other avenues of training and support. Conservation Minnesota also led a successful campaign to launch CheckMyLake.org, which has informed Minnesotans that 40 percent of their lakes do not currently meet water standards. Based on its research, the organization played a major role in the passage of the state’s Legacy Amendment, which is the largest state conservation measure in US history.
The Meramec River Project (The Nature Conservancy)
The Meramec River is one of Missourians most-loved locations for floating, boating, fishing and swimming. The river is also an important tributary to the Mississippi River, supporting 31 species that hold global significance, including several species found nowhere else on Earth. The Meramec also supplies drinking water to about 250,000 Missourians. Unfortunately, decades of abuse have threatened the river’s wellbeing. Its water quality has diminished and important habitats have been destroyed. The Meramec River Project is focused on restoring the health of the river. It leads conservation projects to restore habitats, stream banks and flood plains. The Meramec River Project partners with 25 other organizations to develop a conservation plan that includes watershed conservation education, volunteer projects such as river clean ups and tree planting, and assistance in implementing sustainable ranching practices to not only keep cattle out of the river, but also dig wells to provide alternate water sources and build fence lines.
The Partnership for Water Conservation
The Partnership for Water Conservation is a nonprofit organization actively engaged in protecting watersheds through sustaining river and stream flows. Its current focus is promoting water resource efficiency in landscape irrigation, but it also works to educate residents in Washington’s Puget Sound area on water conservation. According to the partnership, the region ranks 56th of 100 major US cities in average rainfall, and some water suppliers are already predicting insufficient supply to meet demand as the area’s population increases in the next 10 years. In addition to publishing a variety of water conservation reports and other information for individuals, businesses and conservation specialists, the partnership holds forums to discuss water issues and advocate policy change, develop public education campaigns, and grant conservation awards to individuals who contribute toward water conservation efforts in the Puget Sound Region.
The Alliance for The Great Lakes
Not only are The Great Lakes a major geographic marker, but each year 65 million pounds of fish are harvested from their waters, more than 200 million tons of cargo are shipped through its waters. For years, however, Americans thought nothing of filling them with pollutants. That is, until 1969 when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire because of extreme pollution.
The Alliance for The Great Lakes is dedicated to conservation and restoration of the world’s largest freshwater lakes through policy, education, and citizen action. The Alliance is dedicated to protecting the health of the Great Lakes Basin’s people, fish, and other wildlife by reducing sewage overflows and other pollution. The group also works closely with scientists, citizens, government officials, and businesses on strategies to protect fresh water supplies and eliminate waste. Furthermore, it addresses the challenge of invasive species that have arrived via cargo ships from the Atlantic Ocean. Discovering ways to prevent future transfer of the invasive species into the lakes would save the area billions of dollars in damage and control costs.
Since its inception in 1970, the Alliance for The Great Lakes has enrolled 10,000 volunteers in six states in its Adopt-a-Beach program, received the American Bar Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Environmental Law and Policy, and lobbied for the historic Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, passed by Great Lakes state legislatures and the US Congress.