Fighting for Clean Water
Protecting and preserving the Tennessee and Cumberland River Basins
Tennessee Riverkeeper monitors polluters and their pollution permits, responds to citizen complaints, and utilizes other methods to further protect the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers and their tributaries. When the organization discovers illegal pollution, we seek enforcement of environmental laws.
I see an America whose rivers and valleys and lakes hills and streams and plains the mountains over our land and nature’s wealth deep under the earth are protected as the rightful heritage of all the people. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
The mission of Tennessee Riverkeeper is to protect the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers and their tributaries by enforcing environmental laws and educating the public. The communities of the Cumberland and Tennessee Valleys are all interconnected neighbors upstream and downstream and everyone needs clean water, whether you’re black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat. We advocate for the watershed to ensure that future generations will inherit safe, clean water in their communities.
Tennessee Riverkeeper was founded in 2009 by David Whiteside and Mark Martin. The need for this nonprofit organization arose after the TVA Kingston coal ash disaster in December 2008. David Whiteside has created 7 Waterkeeper organizations throughout the South, and discussed creating Tennessee Riverkeeper extensively on the Drive-By Truckers tour bus.
History of the Riverkeeper movement
The first Riverkeeper patrol boat was launched by military veterans and fishermen who mobilized in 1966 to challenge polluters on the Hudson River. That Riverkeeper’s contribution to the Hudson’s amazing recovery has inspired the growth to over 300 autonomous “Waterkeeper” organizations across the world. Waterkeepers (including Alabama’s Tennessee Riverkeeper, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, Hurricane Creekkeeper & Mobile Baykeeper) patrol waterways, respond to citizen complaints, and enforce environmental laws.
Waterkeeper Alliance was founded in 1999 to connect and support local Waterkeeper organizations, each of which is an independent organization protecting its waterway and community. Waterkeeper Alliance offers legal, scientific, and capacity-building advice, provides networking opportunities, and often advocates for issues common to multiple local Waterkeepers.