Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks

Potomac RIVERKEEPER® Dean Naujoks joined Potomac RIVERKEEPER® Network in 2015. (Potomac Riverkeeper is one of three Riverkeepers which includes the Shenandoah and Upper Potomac.) Dean Naujoks has over 20 years of environmental non-profit experience. He began his non-profit career in 1991 with the NC Wildlife Federation. After graduating from NC State University, with a self-created degree in Environmental Policy and Sustainable Development, he was hired as the first Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, serving from 2001 to 2008. He became the first Riverkeeper on the Yadkin River with Yadkin Riverkeeper, Inc. in 2008, also serving as Executive Director until 2014.

Dean has been awarded River Network’s 2009 National River Heroes Award. River Network’s River Heroes Award celebrates rivers and those who protect them by recognizing victories and honoring those who provide leadership and inspiration along the way. Yadkin Riverkeeper also won the 2011 North Carolina Wildlife Federation Governor’s Achievement Award Water Conservation Organization of the Year. Dean has served on Waterkeeper Alliance’s Board of Directors.

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Potomac Riverkeeper Network works to protect the public’s right to clean water in our rivers and streams. They stop pollution to promote safe drinking water, protect healthy river habitats, and enhance public use and enjoyment.

Monitoring Program

Potomac Riverkeeper is dedicated to monitoring the condition of the rivers through regular on-the-water patrols, volunteers, and citizen reports through their website and the new mobile phone app, the Water Reporter. In addition, they work with university law clinics, nonprofit legal groups and corporate law firms that provide pro bono legal services and conduct compliance reviews of pollution permits. Staff and legal interns also provide legal research on pollution permit compliance.

The evidence of pollution observed during monitoring includes polluted runoff from construction sites and farm land, fish kills and fish with lesions, algae blooms, illicit discharges from pipes and many other signs of compromised water quality. Some of problems are old and ongoing, but others are new. They notify government oversight agencies, contact the polluter, and if needed, take legal action if other actions do not result in improvements.

  • The Water Reporter, a mobile reporting app — makes it easier to find and report pollution — and to report the fun things you see and do on the river. Working with Chesapeake Commons, we developed a mobile app, which is a Bay-wide initiative, to gather critical data on the waterways you love! The Water Reporter App for iPhone and iPad is now available for download for free! If you’re out and about and see debris flowing from a construction site, cows in your stream, or a pipe discharging questionable water, use the app to report it. Once your report is submitted it will be sent to your local Waterkeeper and to a live map available on the Water Reporter Website. The Water Reporter app is not only for the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. There are 18 local Waterkeepers in the Chesapeake Bay region waiting for your reports. Reports will go to your local Waterkeeper.

Enforcement & Advocacy Program

Potomac Riverkeeper Network uses information from monitoring and community activity and take actions to create positive change. At any given time, they are working on roughly two dozen active enforcement and advocacy matters, including commenting on pollution permits when they are up for renewal, pushing government regulators to recognize major pollution problems and act on them, and filing lawsuits against polluters and government agencies that are allowing pollution to continue unchecked. Current Potomac Riverkeeper actions and campaigns.

Major Polluters

The Clean Water Act and other environmental laws allow residents to improve their local rivers and streams through “citizen suits.” On behalf of its members and the residents throughout the watershed, Potomac Riverkeeper and its attorneys routinely monitor known polluters. When thee find that a facility is violating its pollution permit, we consider factors, such as the impact of the violations on public health, and the size and scope of the violations, before taking action.

After a review, in most cases, they contact the worst polluters to tell them to stop polluting our water supply and to clean up existing pollution. If they do not, they begin legal actions by filing a mandatory 60-day “letter of intent” to sue under the Clean Water Act. As a last resort, we will take a polluter to court to stop the pollution.

A major victory was the cleanup of toxic coal ash stored in leaking ponds at Dominion’s Possum Point power plant.

Stormwater

They track, comment on and challenge Clean Water Act permits for stormwater from construction sites, industrial sites, and municipal stormwater systems. Stormwater runs off the land and picks up sediment, fertilizer, trash, chemicals, and other pollutants and carries them into our creeks and rivers directly or through storm sewer systems.

Sewage

Sewage most often enters our waterways through Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs), failing septic systems, and wastewater treatment plants illegally discharging. The release of sewage through aging urban sewer systems is a main reason areas of the Potomac River are closed to swimming. Upgrading our infrastructure (i.e sewage tunnels and treatment facilities) and creating and upholding adequate regulations can help to resolve this major form of pollution. Potomac Riverkeeper is working on eliminating CSOs in DC and Alexandria and has a volunteer water quality monitoring program to test for bacteria in the river.

Recreation Program

Potomac Riverkeeper undertakes a number of activities and projects that enhance the use and enjoyment of rivers, with the ultimate goal of increasing public awareness of and participation in protection of the rivers. The Riverkeeper programs also work on some policy and legislative issues related to our work protecting the rivers.

A few times a year, we sponsor river cleanups, often in partnership with other groups or businesses. We also sponsor a few recreational paddles every year. Potomac Riverkeeper hosts RiverPalooza, a series of paddle trips, every year