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Kansas Riverkeeper

In 2001 Friends of the Kaw became a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international water protection organization of over 190 members. With our membership we are charged with hiring the Kansas Riverkeeper, a non-governmental public advocate for the Kansas River who holds the community accountable for the health of the Kansas River. The Kansas Riverkeeper is the eyes, ears and voice of the Kansas River and advocates in the roles of a leader, an educator, an investigator, a media spokesperson and a scientist. Our current Kansas Riverkeeper is Laura Calwell who also served as President of our organization from 1998 thru 2002. Laura brings her strong leadership and organizational skills to this position as well as her experience as an educator. 

Federal, state or county governments cannot be counted on to fund this position but rather we rely on caring private citizens for contributions, donations and memberships to support the Kansas Riverkeeper.

Dumping of any type of waste in our streams is illegal and often goes unreported or unchecked by our state health and environment department. If you witness any suspected violations please contact our Riverkeeper.

Call the Pollution Hotline: 1-866-RIV KEEP (758-5337) or

Waterkeeper Alliance is the international center of a network of Waterkeeper programs. The Alliance approves new Waterkeeper programs, licenses the use of the Waterkeeper names, represents individual Waterkeepers on issues of national interest, and serves as a meeting place for all the Waterkeepers to exchange information, strategy and know-how. The Alliance and its member Waterkeeper groups meet at least once a year, rotating between regions, and communicates regularly in the interim.
The Waterkeeper Alliance connects and supports local Waterkeeper programs to provide a voice for waterways and their communities worldwide. To champion clean water and strong communities, the Waterkeeper Alliance supports and empowers member Waterkeeper organizations to protect communities, ecosystems and water quality; promotes the Waterkeeper model for watershed protection worldwide; and advocates for issues common to Waterkeeper programs.

Each Waterkeeper program reflects the needs of the waterbody and community it represents. The common thread is a full-time person who serves as the Waterkeeper, the public advocate for that body of water. Waterkeepers are part investigator, scientist, lawyer, and advocate. A Waterkeeper's "clients" are all the users of the watershed for which the Waterkeeper advocates. A successful advocate has a diverse bag of tools that allows her or him to get the job done. All Waterkeepers have a boat (ranging in size from canoes to research vessels), but sometimes a pair of hip boots is even more important.

All Waterkeeper programs must be formal organizations. Whether you intend to structure your Waterkeeper program under the umbrella of an existing organization or start your own organization, there must be a non-profit 501(c)(3) or (4) entity sponsoring the Waterkeeper program.