Citizens across the U.S. have formed 35 “water keeper” programs, in which volunteers monitor pollution in rivers, bays, and channels and along coastlines, working to boost enforcement of environmental laws. The Clean Water Act empowers citizens to bring legal actions against polluters when local, state, and federal governments do not. The keeper programs are modeled after an effort started by John Cronin in the Hudson River in 1983. The national Water Keeper Alliance works to draw media attention to water pollution problems uncovered by local groups. Keeper programs are also thriving in Canada, and are being formed in Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the Philippines.

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