San Diego Coastkeeper launched in 1995 (of course, back then we were San Diego Baykeeper). We were a two-person team combating the chronic pollution of San Diego Bay that transformed it into a highly toxic waterbody. We focused on local, community-based advocacy and became the 15th Waterkeeper organization in the country.
The Waterkeeper concept dates to a 19th-century English tradition. Riverkeepers guarded private streams, assuring that the waters remained healthy, well stocked and free of poachers. In 1982, fishermen concerned about pollution of the Hudson River started the first Waterkeeper organization in the United States. The fishermen saw polluters as modern day poachers. The Hudson Riverkeeper proved so effective at stopping the theft of our public resources that Waterkeeper organizations quickly spread across the nation's rivers, lakes, bays, sounds and coastal waters.
Today, the International Waterkeeper Alliance headed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is nearly 200 programs strong, making it one of the world’s fastest growing environmental movements.
We each work to locally enforce the provisions of the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) and other federal and state laws. The CWA states that individuals have the right to stand in the shoes of the United States Attorney in order to stop those who pollute our waterways. Often government agencies do not have the resources necessary to protect our national waters by themselves, so we step in and work closely with agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, to accomplish goals.
San Diego Coastkeeper uses community outreach, education and advocacy efforts to empower thousands of San Diegans to be stewards of clean water and a healthy coastal ecosystem. We encourage the community to help us find water pollution and waste, so we can help fix the problem as soon as possible. We are a team of biologists, activists and lawyers working together and with the community to protect and restore fishable, swimmable and drinkable water in San Diego County.