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Old 05-18-2004, 05:52 PM
Brutus Brutus is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,175
Is 'Clean Water Action' a legitimate organization?

I don't know if GQ is the proper forum for this or not, but I am wondering if anyone knows if 'Clean Water Action' is a actual and legitimate organization, or if its a 'scam'. A number of 'charities' around here were popped for being phoney a while back, hence the concern. I have never heard of these guys before today, but that is hardly suprising.

Their website.
Old 05-18-2004, 07:24 PM
Stan Doubt Stan Doubt is offline
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 723
They are not listed in As with any charity, it is best to get info about how they spend their money before contributing.

Pro: This group was one of the first to publicize the current administration's attempt to ankle the Clean Water Act through a behind-closed-doors rule change in the definition of "Waters of the United States". Though this particular attempt was foiled, the "behind closed doors" strategy has become the current administration's modus operandi because environmental legislation is difficult to repeal or change out in the open when the public is generally in favor of strong environmental regulations that protect public health, clean air and water. Though it is dificult and politically unpopular to change environmental legislation to benefit polluters, the same effect may be achieved behind the scenes if the change is portrayed as a "simplification" or "clarification" of the existing confusing bureaucratic system. This strategy has been applied to allow "moutaintopping" mining practices, initiate the "Clear Skies Initiative", and so on.

Con: This group has been criticized for being too zealous, picking the wrong battles, and employing annoying fundraising techniques in which college students are sent out to knock on doors soliciting donations with gloom and doom statistics about water and water quality. Of course, any organization naturally tries to skew facts and figures in the manner that benefits them the most. When confronted with statistics, bear in mind that "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure".

Viewing their water resources website:

I see a mixed bag:

1.) While CWAction claims a "victory" in the Clean Water Act rollback (mentioned above), in reality, the real deal breaker probably occurred when various sportsman's organizations petitioned the administration against the proposed changes. Hunters and Anglers care about clean water, and they also (generally) represent middle America and vote republican.

2.) The information on "mountaintopping" and the definition of "fill" appears to be pretty fair and accurate

3.) The information about TMDLs "Water Clean Up Program" and "Sewage Alert" includes many generalizations and over-simplifications, IMO.

Full Disclosure: My job relates directly to issues addressed by Clean Water Action. I consider myself more informed about water issues than the general public and I do not always see eye to eye with them.
Old 05-18-2004, 09:39 PM
Brutus Brutus is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,175
Thanks, Stan. The only reason I am even interested is that my neighbors younger son (in college) is taking up a collection for these people. I am normally not disposed to give money to such groups (to say the least), but he is a nice enough kid. As long as he is still paying his NRA dues, why not...
Old 05-19-2004, 09:49 AM
AngelicGemma AngelicGemma is offline
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Yorkshire, England
Posts: 4,056
I don't know if it's the same organisation, but my parents neighbour is a member of a 'clean water' organisation. She apparetly does a lot of work for the organisation.

So it could be legit.
Old 05-19-2004, 11:15 AM
Brainiac4 Brainiac4 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Maplewood, MN
Posts: 2,002
A longtime friend of mine spent a couple of summers working as an organizer and door-to-door fundraiser for them. They have a fair-sized organization here in Minnesota.

They may not be an organization you agree with, but they're not a fly-by-night, take-the-money-and-run operation.
Old 05-19-2004, 12:30 PM
Quercus Quercus is offline
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: temperate forest
Posts: 6,780
There are plenty of groups with 'clean water' in their name.
Clean Water Action is indeed a reputable national environmental group.
Old 05-19-2004, 07:45 PM is online now
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 13,819
Regarding Clean Water Action here in Minnesota, the Charities Review Council of Minnesota has given them a PARTIAL REVIEW, and they do not meet some of their standards. (More info here)

The Mn Attorney General's office Charities Search Database lists only a Michigan Clean Water Action (see here), but that may be connected to the Minnesota one. They have a large office here in Minneapolis, you'd think they would have a listing with the State AG's office.

They aren't listed on either, another online source for info on Charities.

I do know some people who work at the Minneapolis office; they are sincerely interested in water issues and seem to me to be trustworthy people.
Old 05-19-2004, 08:17 PM
Billdo Billdo is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Delectable City of Gotham
Posts: 4,899
The CWA website explains:

Clean Water Action is a Nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Contributions support CWA's grassroots organizing, lobbying and campaigns and are not tax deductible.
What you normally think of as charities (organizations which have purposes that are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and the prevention of cruelty to children or animals) are exempt under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

It looks like a 501(c)(4) Social Welfare Organization which is allowed to lobby for legislation, but not support political candidates.
Old 05-20-2004, 11:52 AM
Eliphalet Eliphalet is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 389
Billdo is correct.

They are not a true non-profit under 501(c)(3), so donations are not tax deductible.

I've donated to them in the past, and they are very nice people working for a cause they believe in. They just feel they need the lobbying capability to better forward. their cause.
Old 05-20-2004, 12:11 PM
Genghis Bob Genghis Bob is offline
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: No where. Now here.
Posts: 1,472
Funny you should bring these guys up. I found one of 'em on my doorstep just last night. As soon as he mentioned that he was raising funds I went into my usual schtick, which goes something like "I don't give money to people who show up at my doorstep, but if you leave me some literature, I promise to take a look at it."

He responded by fixing me with a lazer-like stare and asking, in the endearingly intense way of politically active college students everywhere: "are you really going to read it?"

I was tempted to answer "not now I won't," but I fortunately I remember how I was at his age, so I assured him I would.

Not a comment specific to CWA, but I'm always amazed at how ill-informed these college student doorstep advocates are in general, about the very issues they pursue with such passion. They usually show up unprepared to engage any thoughtful or challenging questions about their stand. Whoever sends these kids out so ill-prepared does them no favors.


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