On World Water Day (March 22, 2011), America’s Great Waters Coalition designated nine new Great Waters, including the New York/New Jersey Harbor, the Albemarle Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, and the Colorado River.
The Coalition works to ensure the restoration of America’s Great Waters to protect people, wildlife, and the economy by advocating for adequate funding for restoration efforts and raise awareness and educate decision makers about the challenges facing our nation’s Great Waters.
“We cannot afford not to protect our Great Waters,” said Theresa Pierno, co-chair for the America’s Great Waters Coalition and executive vice president for the National Parks Conservation Association. “The health of our Great Waters is directly linked to America’s economic recovery and the creation of jobs. Millions of jobs are dependent on our Great Waters and contribute trillions to our nation’s economy.”
For more than three decades, landmark legislation and funding for restoration efforts has protected America waterways. With intense disagreement on funding levels for fiscal year 2011, funding for critical restoration projects is at risk. The Coalition is advocating that decision makers support restoration efforts for America’s waterways that are critical to local economies and way of life for communities nationwide.
“Cuts now will cost us later,” said Roy A. Hoagland, co-chair for the America’s Great Waters Coalition and vice president at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “The longer we wait to invest in restoring our nation’s Great Waters – whether it be the Chesapeake Bay, the Everglades, Great Lakes, Long Island Sound, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, the Gulf of Mexico or others – the more we will have to pay to achieve healthy ecosystems. It is frightening to consider the impacts that major funding cuts would have on the health of our Great Waters.”
In addition to the Chesapeake Bay and 9 other Great Waters already designated, the Coalition added the following bodies of water: the Albemarle Pamlico Sound, Colorado River, Delaware River, Galveston Bay, Missouri River, Narragansett Bay, New York/New Jersey Harbor, Ohio River, and the Rio Grande.
While the Great Waters vary in geographic location and physical characteristics, they are plagued by similar problems such as toxic pollution, altered water flows, habitat loss and destruction, invasive species, and more. However, across the country, restoration efforts funded by the federal government are producing on-the-ground results.
The Coalition consists of more than 50 local, regional, and national organizations that believe that speaking with a united voice and working together will help nationalize Great Waters’ priorities, and will bring more strength to each region’s restoration efforts.
To learn more about the Great Waters Coalition, visit: www.nwf.org/greatwaters.