Public Lab Research note

Environmental & Public Health Advocacy Success Stories

by gilbert | November 15, 2017 19:21 15 Nov 19:21 | #15193 | #15193

__##Environmental & Public Health Advocacy Success Stories

-- Gilbert Rochon, Ph.D., MPH 11/14/2017

[Photo Credit : MyRWA staff collect a water quality sample at Alewife Brook, 2014.]

During the course of my relatively recent service as Advocacy Manager for the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab), in addition to our engagement with communities along the Gulf Coast, under a grant from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and with communities in the Mid-West USA, under a grant from the Schmidt Family Foundation's 11th Hour program, it has been my privilege to observe and become familiar with exemplary successful advocacy initiatives, both nationally and globally.

Accordingly, in this blog, it is my intention to showcase one such success story on a weekly basis. The primary objectives of this initiative are to offer examples of best practices, to further disseminate environmental and public health advocacy success stories, as well as to offer hope and encouragement to community advocates, particularly in this era, when counter-scientific challenges to environmental sustainability, insouciance with respect to public health protections and denial of well-documented evidence of anthropogenic climate change have received inordinate governmental and industrial validation.

Resources utilized to identify successful community advocacy initiatives included the peer reviewed literature, multi-lateral agency publications, governmental websites, citizen science websites, peer production websites, university press releases, NGO reports and social media. Individuals or organizations interested in nominating successful community advocacy initiatives to be highlighted in upcoming posts are invited to share their recommendations: [Public Lab is a community where you can learn how to investigate environmental concerns. Using inexpensive DIY techniques, we seek to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms. Join now. ]

Success Story: Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) "A Victory for Clean Water: Citizen Science Data Leads to Change." June 1, 2017

"For years, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and its volunteers have helped to document water pollution problems in the Town of Belmont. This week, that hard work paid off.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an Administrative Order on Consent with the Town of Belmont over years of water quality damages. Over the next five years the town has agreed to make a significant investment in repairs to its storm water system, which is discharging pollutants, including human sewage, into waters of the Mystic River watershed. We congratulate Belmont on their commitment to improve water quality to tributaries to Alewife Brook.

This is a success story for citizen science and for non-profit environmental collaboration with government agencies. Data acquired by MyRWA volunteers and shared with EPA was key to making progress. This has been a group effort---from the dozens of volunteer monitors who go out each month to collect samples, to the tireless work of others like Roger Frymire, who spent countless hours finding sources of pollution in the Alewife Brook area.

Since 2000, volunteers through the MyRWA's Baseline Monitoring Program have generated water quality data that is shared with state and federal agencies. Each year the EPA in conjunction with MyRWA issues a water quality report card for the Mystic River watershed.

The 2015 water quality report card for the Belmont area tells the story: Alewife Brook earned a D grade with 50% compliance with boating and swimming standards for bacteria; Little River a D- grade at 44% compliance; and Winn's Brook an F grade at 33% compliance.

One powerful aspect of the Baseline Monitoring Program is that it is poised to document success as well as problems. As infrastructure repairs are made in Belmont, we fully expect these grades to improve. We look forward to documenting and celebrating water quality improvements to Alewife Brook, Little River, Winn's Brook, Wellington Brook---and the Mystic River itself---over the next five years! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who continues to work with us for protecting clean water."

Sources: Brett Davidson. "Storytelling and evidence-based policy: lessons from the grey literature," Nature. Published online: 12 September 2017. doi:10.1057/palcomms.2017.93

New Green Advocates: Climate-Change Lawsuits. Global warming is increasingly being fought in the courtroom. The Economist, Nov. 2nd, 2017

Brian Palmer. "Environmental Advocacy is a First Amendment Right," Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Oct. 31, 2017.

Earth Justice. "Landmark Victories," Nov. 8, 2017.

Brian Clark Howard. "46 Environmental Victories since the First Earth Day," National Geographic .April 22, 2016.

National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Steve Williams. "6 Major Environmental Successes from 2016," CARE2. Dec. 30, 2016.


Login to comment.