There is no greater honor than to be recognized by your peers for the important work that you do. CLF’s Clean Water and Healthy Forest program director, Christopher Kilian, received such an honor last week at the Charles River Watershed Association’s annual meeting, where CRWA presented him with the 2011 Anne M. Blackburn Award. The award is “presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions over a career that have resulted in singular improvements for the Charles River, its watershed and our natural environment.”
CLF is extremely proud of the clean water work that Chris and his team have done and continue to do in collaboration with CRWA and numerous other watershed partners. You can read more about this award-winning work elsewhere on our web site (e.g., cleaning up polluted highway runoff and polluted runoff from parking lots and other commercial development, and securing an agreement to prevent super-heated water discharges into the Charles from a nearby power plant). Here, however, I want to share with you some inspiring excerpts from the speech Chris delivered to an appreciative audience at the award ceremony:
We must all stand up for the basic notion of equal access to justice, including the courts, to vindicate the public interest in a healthy environment. I applaud CRWA for its willingness to stand up for clean water, including in the courts when necessary.
But the words of the law ring hollow unless they are connected to people and a place. No organization is more effectively connected to a place on earth than CRWA. Here on the Charles, my own evolving sense that an urban river can be a thriving ecological system and community amenity has been further inspired by the decades of incredible work of CRWA. CRWA’s ideal of blue cities where clean, healthy waters are present even in the densest urban areas, is a vision that is changing the world. Instead of dangerous dumping grounds, our urban waters will cool us as we safely swim in the summer, feed us as we catch fish and shellfish with our children, leave us awestruck in the presence of habitat for nature’s great bird migrations and creatures great and small, and provide a needed release as we sail, boat, and enjoy these great natural amenities.
Some, even government leaders in Massachusetts, say our work to protect clean water is done. They say that clean water is not worth the cost. They say removing raw sewage from our waters (a job that still remains unfinished) is all that the Clean Water Act demanded. This cannot be the case. It cannot be that the Charles will suffer a fate overrun with toxic metals, raw sewage, and toxic blue green algae blooms. I am confident that with all of you, with CRWA, and CLF working together our waters will not be left degraded. Thank you to CRWA’s supporters, please continue your support. Our work is more important now than ever.