Dirt is the most common pollutant in America’s waterways. When it rains, mud flows from poorly protected construction sites, logging activities and farms into our streams and rivers. Silt spells suffocating death for the plants and wildlife in our streams and costs taxpayers an estimated $16 billion every year. Across the nation, local watershed conservation organizations are teaming up as part of Waterkeeper Alliance's Muddy Water Watch program to fight this source of illegal pollution.
But how do you get dozens of local river groups and hundreds of volunteers spread out across multiple states to share resources, reporting data, photos and videos? How do you leverage this incredible volunteer effort to tell the story both locally and nationally? How do you translate this work into lasting political and social change?
This is the challenge that a cadre of Waterkeeper organizations brought to ThinkShout in Fall 2009. And our response included a combination of branding, design and content strategy - as well as the development of a feature-rich social media mash-up, built with Drupal.
With the launch of MuddyWaterWatch.org, Muddy Water Watch volunteers across the country have a single portal through which they can:
- Share training resources and connect with other advocates
- Upload raw video files that are automatically submitted to YouTube
- Vote on the "Best and Worst" photos of sediment pollution and control efforts
- Use interactive Google Maps to research pollution abatement efforts in their local community
- Submit complex sediment monitoring report cards to local environmental enforcement agencies
- Schedule follow-up monitoring efforts at pollution sites.
Given ThinkShout Founder Sean Larkin's ten-year history of supporting Waterkeeper Alliance (Robert Kennedy, Jr., literally paid for him to have the Waterkeeper logo tattooed on his back, we are not kidding...), we were particularly proud to support this project. And we look forward to future opportunities to share these grassroots organizing and advocacy tools with local environmental advocates around the world.