Water Sentinels

Michigan's Menominee River north of Sixty Islands.

Water Sentinels - Protecting America's Waters

The best way to defend our waterways is to empower committed local activists with accurate information and train them in water-quality monitoring techniques and grassroots advocacy. Standing knee-deep in the local waters they love is a powerful position from which to advocate for the strongest protections and proactive changes.  That's what we do. 

With several thousand trained volunteers working at over 40 project sites all over the country, the Sierra Club's Water Sentinels are monitoring about 48,000 square miles of watersheds that are home to 184 million Americans, with efforts that range from protecting pristine streams to cleaning up heavily degraded Superfund sites.

Here's how our team does it:

Volunteer Training

The Water Sentinels program recruits and trains activists to test and assess their water. We educate them with written materials and workshops, help them to acquire quality-assurance training and monitoring equipment and laboratory analysis resources, and teach them to compile inventories and evidence.

Exposing Clean Water Enforcement Failures

Water Sentinels compile and summarize agency data and our own monitoring data to determine whether an agency is enforcing Clean Water Act laws and regulations. The Sierra Club uses this research to hold those agencies accountable, as well as to create factsheets, media stories, and reports that will help us inform and reach out to community leaders, local officials, state agencies, recreationists, and schools.

Mobilizing Spokespeople and Volunteers

The Sierra Club encourages individuals and families who have been directly affected by water pollution to become spokespeople for our communities.  The Clean Water Act clearly defines our lakes, rivers, and streams as 'waters of the United States' -- as invaluable resources belonging to all Americans.  

Volunteers are essential to monitoring the quality of America's waters. We hope you will join us.