The lobby strategies including an annual lobby day helped to secure record level funding for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program – and the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Package also contained language pushed by the Coalition to increase and reallocate the Chesapeake Stewardship Grants so more money went to local communities for on-the-ground restoration projects. The Coalition, in coordination with other groups across the country, secured 27% more funds than the President’s budget request for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which is critical to local governments and municipal authorities to do the infrastructure work necessary to reduce nutrient pollution.
In addition, nearly two years of work on the 2014 Farm Bill led to two huge wins for the Chesapeake region. First, the final 2014 Farm Bill contained the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that the Coalition has been working on. Later, the Secretary of Agriculture announced that the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed region was designated, under the new RCPP, as one of 7 priority conservation areas around the nation.
The annual Choose Clean Water conference hosted more than 250 clean water advocates, state officials, local government staff, and philanthropic leaders. Meeting in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, participants learned about successful clean water efforts while networking with fellow advocates. Conference attendants enjoyed field trips to local farms, stream restoration projects, and green infrastructure projects.
The Coalition—supported by 135 member organizations in all six watershed states and the District of Columbia—celebrated a first year of notable achievement with an annual conference in the District. This also served as a planning session/assessment of the Chesapeake Bay restoration work to date. Reflecting on the previous year’s work created the opportunity to craft a policy agenda for the upcoming year that would achieve measurable progress in cleaning our waters.
The Coalition also played a role in activating people and organizations during a public comment period for the Chesapeake Bay pollution limits. Thanks to the work of Coalition members, approximately 90% of more than 14,000 comments were supportive of the limits.
Thanks to the support of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, a number of organizations met in the fall of 2008 to identify the most pressing needs of the Chesapeake Bay.
Conservation organizations working in the Chesapeake concluded that a consolidated and coordinated effort was the best way to bring about the changes needed to restore the Bay. The organizations agreed on a preliminary coalition structure, established a set of core concepts, and selected National Wildlife Federation as fiscal agent.
To serve as a strong, united, effective advocate for restoring the thousands of streams and rivers flowing to the Chesapeake Bay by coordinating policy, message action and accountability for clean water at the federal, state and local levels.
Each state in the Chesapeake watershed submitted their clean water plans and the real work started to be done at the local level. In 2013, the Coalition supported these efforts by identifying and sharing the best, most cost-effective clean water practices and shared them across jurisdictional lines. The Coalition increased member communications capacity by drafting simplified messaging documents, developed the local waters frame, and told stories that focused on solutions.
The Coalition developed strategies to help members better engage grassroots and grasstops in priority areas using Congressional targeted areas to drive cultivation. Working with Choose Clean Water’s state lead, the Virginia Conservation Network (VCN), we identified and persuaded 25,000 voters to head to the polls and vote their conservation values while also building the capacity of the Virginia conservation community.
An external review finds that the Coalition is successful in building trust among its members, developing compelling locally-focused messages and effective governance, priority-setting, and member recruitment. The Coalition grows to more than 200 members throughout the region.
More than 60 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of members and activists from the Chesapeake Bay region joined together on Capitol Hill to push for stronger federal action on restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. The effort’s premise was simple: Clean water is a choice.
On May 20, “Choose Clean Water” officially launched with members of Congress from across the region attending the celebration.