The National Wildlife Federation

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Waters

America’s waters are the lifeblood of our nation. The rivers, streams, lakes, aquifers, springs, and wetlands that course through our landscape support a breadth of aquatic life and meet daily human needs. But human use is altering and diminishing these waters, in turn having a negative impact for both people and wildlife. Our work focuses on protecting and restoring these vital water resources.

The National Wildlife Federation has been advocating for improvements in our nation’s water quality since our first annual meeting in 1937. Over the past four decades, the Federation’s work with water quality policies such as the Clean Water Act has led to much progress in cleaning up rivers and streams. Unfortunately today we’re seeing pollution and climate change have devastating effects on our waters. The National Wildlife Federation remains steadfast in improving water quality and aquatic ecosystems, from small streams to vast iconic areas like the Great Lakes.

Restoring America's Great Waters

Across the United States, large aquatic ecosystems with particular value to fish and wildlife face significant ecological threats. The Everglades, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Mississippi River Delta, Gulf of Mexico, and other major water resource areas—what we think of as the nation’s Great Waters—have become degraded over the years by pollution, flow alterations, wetland destruction, and more. Our strategies include securing funds, advocating for policies, and developing on-the-ground projects to restore these waters for people and wildlife.

Protecting Our Water Resources

To protect wildlife, it is vital to protect our nation’s water resources. These waters are home to countless species of fish, mussels, and other aquatic life. For wildlife on land, water serves as everything from a source of drinking water to protection from natural hazards. The National Wildlife Federation protects and restores the natural function and quality of our waterways through legislative advocacy, campaigns, and water planning guidelines. With strategies for improved water management, we also support a riparian corridor network to provide pathways for wildlife.

Defending the Clean Water Act

Healthy headwaters, wetlands, and riparian areas are essential to good water quality for both people and wildlife. Much progress has been made in cleaning up rivers and streams since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972—however, the legal protections for these water resources have been uncertain for years, following two ambiguous Supreme Court decisions. The National Wildlife Federation defends Clean Water Act safeguards in Congress and in the courts. Through the federal budget and appropriations process, the National Wildlife Federation also secures funding for robust programs to ensure Clean Water Act and Farm Bill safeguards that protect wetlands, headwaters, and riparian areas.

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