Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1. What is the specific purpose of River Watch?
A1. The specific purpose of this corporation is to protect, enhance and help restore the surface and ground waters including all rivers, creeks, streams, wetlands and tributaries of California.
Q2. How does River Watch work towards its purpose?
A2. River Watch’s main means of accomplishing its goals is through the enforcement of environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, California’s safe drinking water laws such as Prop 65, and other federal statutes.
Q3. How does River Watch work to enforce environmental laws?
A3. By several means. Administratively, River Watch works with regulatory agencies such as the EPA and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Directly, when regulatory agencies decline to take action, after full review and approval of its Board of Directors, River Watch files lawsuits to abate the continuing violations.
Q4. Is River Watch a non-profit?
A4. Yes, River Watch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and donations to River Watch (thank you!) are deductible.
Q5. How many members are in River Watch?
A5. We believe that River Watch has more than 1000 members. Any person can become a member of River Watch by either paying dues or volunteering three hours of work. Qualified volunteering activities include river watching, when a person looks for pollution in a specific watershed.
Q6. How can I get more information concerning some of River Watch’s cases?
A6. On this website River Watch posts information concerning the majority of its cases. Please contact River Watch for more information. We are happy to provide the public with additional information and in some cases documents (at a reasonable cost for printing).
Q7. How does River Watch support itself?
A7. River Watch’s support come from lawsuits, grants and donations. River Watch’s Annual Report, which can be found on this website, details all income and expenses.
Q8. Does River Watch consult with other groups before deciding to sue a polluter? And if not, why?
A8. We welcome any group interested in helping our cause, however, we do not usually work with other groups. We have found that, for whatever reason, groups are reluctant to become involved in litigation.
Q9. Do you take complaints from citizens?
A9. Yes, many of our cases originate as citizen’s complaints. Generally when we receive a citizen’s complaint we forward it on to the appropriate regulatory agency. If River Watch has standing to pursue the polluter it works with the regulatory agency to seek compliance. If the regulatory agency declines to pursue the polluter River Watch decides whether or not to file suit.
Q10. Does River Watch ever just ask the polluter to fix the problem before filing suit?
A10. Yes. Every time. By law River Watch is required to give the polluter from 60 to 90 days notice of a pending lawsuit. The notice must be specific enough such that the polluter knows what is being complained of. Additionally, River Watch personally contacts the polluter to explore non-litigation options. River Watch prefers compliance through cooperation rather than litigation. Litigation is a wasteful use of resources. More than half of River Watch’s cases are resolved with little or no litigation.
Q11. How does River Watch choose who it will sue?
A11. We receive pollution complaints from concerned citizens, which we then investigate. Prior to legal action, we notify the proper regulatory authorities, and parties of concern, to resolve the issue.
If violations have not been resolved, then we are pressed to pursue legal measures to preserve our waterways and our drinking water. Then the legal committee reviews policy and specific cases which might further policy. The committee makes recommendations to the Board, and the Board votes whether or not to file a lawsuit.
Q12. What are some of River Watch’s current cases?
A12. River Watch’s current cases are posted on this website. We are happy to provide the public with additional information and in some cases documents.
Q13. What are River Watch’s major accomplishments?
Q13. On this website River Watch maintains a list of its major accomplishments on the Legal Page.
Q14. Can I earmark my donation for specific purposes?
Q14. Yes, we often receive funds that are to be expended on one project or case alone.
Q15. How can I volunteer at River Watch?
A15. Contact River Watch’s Project Manager and explain the project you are interested in working on. (see our contact info page).
Q16. Does River Watch have an office?
A16. Yes, this website lists River Watch’s office address, phone and fax numbers.
We welcome you to submit questions on our website, and we will post the answers here and/or respond to you personally.