Mission: The mission of Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc. (PRK) is to stop pollution and to restore clean water in the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and their tributaries through enforcement and community engagement. Potomac Riverkeeper was founded in 2000 and first staffed in 2003. PRK is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance. Potomac Riverkeeper was formed by leading regional environmental groups and environmental leaders who wanted the strong advocacy and enforcement on the Potomac for which Riverkeepers are known. Potomac Riverkeeper fills a niche in the region as an on-the-water presence and a strong voice for and defender of the river and its tributaries,
Programs: Potomac Riverkeeper has two Riverkeepers (Potomac and Shenandoah) who are on-the-water defenders and advocates for the river. PRK's main programs are: Clean Water Enforcement Program. The goals of the Clean Water Enforcement Program are to 1) identify and prioritize major pollution problems on the Potomac and its tributaries; 2) seek polluter compliance with environmental laws; 3) promote law reform; and 4) promote government accountability for enforcement and compliance. Healthy Rivers = Healthy Communities Program. Goals of this program are to 1) prevent pollution; 2) raise community awareness; 3) build partnerships to help achieve other strategic objectives; and 4) engage members and the public.
My first exposure to PRK was when I was recruited to help solicit donations of goods and services for its annual silent and live auction. The first thing that struck me was the recognition and respect I received from each company on the list as soon as I identified myself as a representative of PRK. I often heard that the business in question would do anything it could to help the organization with its mission. And these for me were cold calls -- people I did not know took extra time to tell me how grateful they were for the people at PRK.
In terms of working directly with PRK staff and other volunteers, I find them to be bound by a single thread: passion for the beautiful rivers it serves. The sense of stewardship and responsibility to future generations is very inspiring.