Choose Clean Water Coalition Hosts Conference in Baltimore

The Choose Clean Water Coalition’s 4th annual conference took place this week in downtown Baltimore. Over 250 clean water advocates, scientists, government officials, industry experts and students attended the 2-day event, which was jam-packed with speakers, field trips and break-out sessions all centered on the theme ‘Clean Water Works’ and the fact that we’re all downstream from someone else.

Image courtesy of Suzanne KashnowUnder the premise that clean water is a choice, the Choose Clean Water Coalition launched in 2009 as a coordinated effort among conservation organizations working to restore the Chesapeake Bay.  Since then, the membership has grown to over 200 organizations from Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, which are focused on improving local waterways. Indeed, Wednesday’s closing speaker Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Director and Acting Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, emphasized the local aspects of water – and with that the personal responsibility of communities and individuals as an essential supplement to federal regulation in keeping waterways clean. He praised the Coalition’s collective power and urged its members to keep at it, even when that means just treading water, in order to fulfill the Clean Water Act’s goal ‘to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters’ – something he said he ranks “right up there with the pursuit of happiness in the U.S. Constitution.”

Image courtesy of Suzanne Kashnow

The conference consisted of panels and workshops on stormwater management, agricultural conservation, Baltimore’s Healthy Harbor initiative, water and human health, hydrofracking, climate change, and a new Chesapeake Bay Agreement in the works for 2013 to “pass the baton” to the next generation by detailing new goals for more flexible, comprehensive, and effective watershed protection.  Attendees had their choice of four field trips to explore Baltimore on Tuesday afternoon, from touring the Port to exploring Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center. They then spent the evening at the National Aquarium for an awards dinner honoring Keith Campbell, founder of The Campbell Foundation, for his contributions to the protection of the Chesapeake Bay.

DSC_6032Conferences often have reduced rates or volunteer positions available for students to attend affordably. In addition to recruiting help with all the behind-the-scenes action, these discounts and opportunities are also a goodwill gesture to the next generation of scientists, educators and advocates who can learn firsthand about the work that is currently being done. So if a conference related to your field of study sounds interesting, don’t be intimidated by the price – send them an email, identify yourself as a student, and ask how you can get involved! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain – the chance to hear about real world applications of what you are studying, networking opportunities, and probably a free lunch too.

All images by Suzanne Kashnow

Leave A Comment