Water Equity Clearinghouse

American Rivers

American Rivers, a leading river conservation organization, is championing a national effort to protect and restore rivers, from remote mountain streams to urban waterways. In the United States, 44 percent of assessed waterways are too polluted for fishing and swimming, and climate change threatens to further degrade these resources, possibly leading to widespread water shortages by mid-century. Habitat destruction through development and dam construction continues to imperil wildlife, ecosystems, and our own health.
American Rivers has made significant strides in combatting such problems. In its 50 years, the organization has safeguarded more than 150,000 river miles and 3 million acres of riverside lands, removed more than 200 dams, and mobilized more than 1 million volunteers to clean 39.6 million pounds of trash out of our nation’s waterways. 
Driven by the growing, interconnected threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and racial injustice, the organization aims to expand the scale of its work on rivers nationwide. American Rivers’ strategic vision for the next decade targets four bold goals: to protect one million miles of rivers, remove 30,000 dams, ensure clean water for every community, and champion a powerful river movement.
American Rivers has a wide reach, with regional offices in California, the Southwest, the Northern Rockies, the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast, the Central Region, the Northeast, and the Mid-Atlantic. Combining national-level advocacy with a targeted local presence ensures a lasting impact.
Efforts to Advance Water Equity
American Rivers believes healthy rivers and clean water are for everyone, not just a privileged few. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as well as Tribal Nations, feel the impacts of pollution and other river threats disproportionately due to historical and contemporary policies and practices that maintain inequities. That is why the organization seeks to dismantle policies that allow damaged, polluted rivers to flow through communities of color, while more affluent—often white—communities enjoy cleaner, healthier rivers.
In Atlanta, American Rivers is working with the Partnership for Southern Equity, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, and a number of other partners to develop a green infrastructure strategy built on equity and inclusion. This work looks at equitable distribution of green infrastructure throughout the city and addresses the potential for gentrification and displacement that comes with environmental improvements. By exposing the ways in which structural racism and inequality have prevented vulnerable communities from participating in decision-making, the project aims to give these communities the tools they need to have a voice in Atlanta’s redevelopment. This work shows that green infrastructure can be implemented equitably, allowing all communities and neighborhoods to thrive.