The next 100 days will be critical.

As the Biden-Harris administration takes office, we are making sure clean water and healthy rivers are a top priority.

This is no time to back down, to relax, to let down our guard. A new administration doesn’t mean threats to rivers and drinking water disappear. Now is the time to get to work.

We recognize the historic opportunity before us, to restore our rivers and clean water as we rebuild our nation and economy from the ravages of COVID-19, while also repairing the damage done to rivers and clean water over the past four years. The facts in front of us are stark:

  • Millions of people in the U.S. lack access to clean, safe, affordable water.
  • Forty-four percent of assessed waterways in the U.S. are too polluted for fishing and swimming, and forty percent of North America’s freshwater species are at risk of extinction. 
  • Climate change is bringing more severe droughts and floods, putting intense pressure on water resources across the country and disproportionately impacting Black, Latino and Indigenous communities. 

The Biden-Harris administration has announced that they will focus on the core issues of justice, the economy, public health and climate change. Rivers run through each of these issues, and can be part of the solutions that strengthen our communities and our nation. This is why we’re declaring the first 100 days of the new administration as 100 Days for Rivers.

Our 2021 Blueprint for Action includes:

1. Invest in Rivers and Clean Water to Recover from COVID-19

Any infrastructure, economic stimulus, or jobs bill crafted to address the COVID-19 economic crisis must include major investments in water infrastructure, flood management, and watershed restoration. American Rivers recommends Congress invest $500 billion for rivers and clean water over the next 10 years.

More on Clean Water
-> What Biden’s infrastructure plan means for rivers
-> America’s Infrastructure gets a C-
-> Jackson water crisis exposes water inequities

2. Reverse Regulatory Rollbacks and Restore Strong, Effective Federal Protection for Rivers and Clean Water

The last four years have seen unprecedented rollbacks of regulations that protect rivers and clean water. The Biden-Harris administration must reverse those rollbacks and restore bedrock environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

More on Regulatory Rollbacks

-> President Biden Executive Orders Rollback of Anti-Environmental Regulatory Actions
-> Trump Administration Goes After Clean Water Act
-> River protection at the national level: A look back at 2019 and what’s ahead in 2020

3. Improve Protection and Management of the Nation’s Floodplains

Poorly planned development in floodplains across the country has led to massive losses of wetlands, immeasurable pollution and habitat destruction, and billions of dollars lost to flood damage. The Biden-Harris administration and Congress should promote equitable, integrated flood management and prioritize nature-based approaches to manage floods.

More on Flooding

-> Biden Administration Takes First Step Towards Flood Resilience
-> Healthy Floodplains Reduce Nutrient Pollution
-> Flooding and injustice are deeply linked — particularly during a pandemic

4. Launch a National Initiative to Prioritize and Fund Dam Removals

Dam removal is the single most effective way to rehabilitate a damaged river system. The Biden-Harris administration should prioritize and fund dam removal and river restoration; review the impacts and true costs of maintaining and operating federal water infrastructure; and, facilitate dam removal and river restoration through the hydropower relicensing process.

More on Dam Removal

-> 69 Dams Removed in 2020
-> A bold plan for salmon, clean energy and jobs in the Pacific Northwest
-> A historic milestone for the Klamath River

5. Increase Protection of Wild and Scenic Rivers

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act has protected over 13,000 miles of pristine rivers and millions of acres of riverside habitat from dam construction, mining and other threats. But many of the last wild rivers in America remain vulnerable to destruction. The Biden-Harris administration should support Congressional designation of 5,000 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers and support the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System with increased funding and research.

More on Wild and Scenic Rivers

-> How the Biden Administration Can Save More Rivers
-> Is Your River Being Considered for Wild and Scenic Protection?
-> Everything you need to know about Oregon’s River Democracy Act