Protect Ecosystems and Fisheries

In many parts of the country, water supplies are straining to meet the needs of people and wildlife. Diverting water for cities, agriculture, and other uses has significantly affected the natural character of a waterway and the surrounding habitat, putting the health of our rivers, lakes, and other vital ecosystems at risk.

NRDC works with government agencies, local communities, and businesses to develop practical strategies for keeping our rivers and lakes healthy while providing adequate water supplies for growing populations and economies. In California, we led a broad coalition of conservation and fishing groups that won an 18-year battle to restore water and salmon to the San Joaquin River. We are now working to ensure that our legal agreement is properly implemented—and that this mighty river is once again a source of sustenance for communities and wildlife.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, California Cavan Images/Offset

We’re also fighting to preserve the San Francisco Bay-Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast. We go to court to stop unsustainable water withdrawals from the delta, which threaten endangered fish species and their habitat, and advocate for more efficient water management.

In Chicago, we’re calling for comprehensive solutions to address Lake Michigan’s invasive species crisis. Making improvements to the city’s outdated water infrastructure would help keep both invasive species and harmful pollution out of the water and protect the Great Lakes ecosystem as a whole. In the upper Missouri River basin, we're advocating for better management of dams and diversion facilities to make those operations compatible with healthy native fisheries.

On the East Coast, NRDC and our partners negotiated a commitment from New York City to clean up Jamaica Bay by significantly reducing nitrogen pollution, improving water-quality monitoring, and implementing marsh-restoration activities.

And over in Alaska, we work with a coalition of conservation groups, fishermen, and business owners to prevent construction of the largest hydroelectric dam in 40 years on the pristine Susitna River, near Denali National Park. Vital to the region's commercial fishing and tourism economies, the Susitna is home to five runs of chinook and sockeye salmon, and supports wildlife such as caribou, moose, bald eagles, and bears.

Nationwide, we reach out to water-resource managers and government officials, calling for better management of crucial ground- and headwater streams, highlighting the threats that climate change poses to water supplies, and pushing for cost-effective, climate-smart water-management strategies that also protect ecosystems.

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