MOREHEAD CITY — Coastal Carolina Riverwatch has appointed a new waterkeeper to watch over the water bodies of Carteret and Onslow counties.
The Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Board of Directors recently appointed program coordinator Rebecca Drohan as the new coastal Carolina waterkeeper. Ms. Drohan succeeds Larry Baldwin, the previous waterkeeper, who stepped down in June to join the international Waterkeeper Alliance’s North Carolina Pure Farms, Pure Waters team.
In a news release, Ms. Drohan said being waterkeeper for Carteret and Onslow counties is a position she’s honored to have, and one she takes very seriously.
“Having grown up kayaking, swimming, and exploring North Carolina’s watersheds, I developed a great admiration for our natural world and became inspired to protect it,” she said. “However, not everyone has been afforded the same privilege of clean and safe waterways to enjoy. Our rivers, estuaries and coastal waters are so precious but are subject to many threats. As Waterkeeper I will advocate for clean water for all.”
Ms. Drohan will lead several initiatives as waterkeeper, which will support the mission of CCRW to protect and enhance the waters, land and communities of eastern North Carolina. These include monitoring concentrated animal feeding operations, studying microplastic pollution, working with local commercial fishing communities through the Water Quality for Fisheries industry workgroup and pursuing funds for an environmental leadership mentoring program.
“Though we are up against formidable challenges, we are working everyday to protect our local waterways,” Ms. Drohan said. “We couldn’t do it without the help of our community, volunteers and members. Together, we are working towards a more sustainable and just future for residents in our watershed, and beyond.”
CCRW is a grassroots organization dedicated to restoring, protecting and enhancing the waters of the Crystal Coast, White Oak River and New River. The organization, which has an office in Morehead City, is part of the Waterkeeper Alliance, the largest and fastest-growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water.
“Our goal is drinkable, fishable, swimmable water,” the organization said. “Our mission is to protect and enhance the waters, land, and communities of eastern North Carolina. We accomplish this through strong advocacy, education, watershed monitoring, supporting environmental policy and promoting citizen stewardship.”
According to CCRW, its waterkeepers act as “a voice for local watersheds.” They perform “boots on the ground” field work to monitor and defend waterways.
“Waterkeepers focus on localized bodies of water while working collectively with neighbors to address larger issues,” CCRW said. “They work to hold polluters accountable, while engaging community members in education and outreach to bring about long term change.”
Riverwatch said the public can always reach out to its waterkeepers to report concerns in their watershed. CCRW can be reached online at its website www.coastalcarolinariverwatch.org/report-a-problem/
In the release, CCRW Executive Director Lisa Rider said they’re grateful to work alongside Ms. Drohan.
“She’s a true advocate for our waterways,” Ms. Rider said. “She walks it like she talks it and is a role model for others wanting to do more to protect the quality of water and quality of life in eastern North Carolina. She has the perfect combination of technical skills and passion that supports our mission.”
CCRW board president Rick Kearney said in the release Ms. Drohan has “rapidly grown into her responsibilities” during her time at the riverwatch and “is ready and excited to take on the new challenges of Waterkeeper.”
“She is passionate about our mission of water quality and fully prepared to elevate our work in protecting the ENC environment,” Mr. Kearney said.
Ms. Drohan joined the staff of Coastal Carolina Riverwatch in the fall of 2018. In her previous position, she worked to engage the community through coordinating volunteers for litter cleanups and water monitoring, interactive programming for school age children, creating virtual outreach content and partnering with local businesses on plastic reduction initiatives. In her three years at CCRW, she received on-the-job training in water sample collection and analysis, aerial watershed observations and water quality advocacy.
Ms. Drohan holds a bachelor’s degree in sustainable development from Appalachian State University. Her background includes outdoor education at Hemlock Bluffs State Nature Preserve and organizing on fossil fuel issues in the Chesapeake region.