Community Member

Three Rivers Waterkeeper

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Three Rivers Waterkeeper (3RWK) was founded in 2009 with a mission to improve and protect the water quality of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. Believing that these waterways are critical to the health, vitality and economic prosperity of the region, 3RWK envisions making drinkable, fishable and swimmable water available to all. Through advocacy, activism and education, 3RWK is the frontline defense for water protection in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania. Akin to boots on the ground, 3RWK volunteers have boats in the water, patrolling and monitoring for pollution by using high-quality technologies to collect and analyze water samples. They also educate, train and empower community members to become water stewards – instilling in them a positive connection to the waterways and teaching them to spot and report pollution. On the advocacy front, 3RWK harnesses scientific data and community education and empowerment to ensure clean water laws are enforced.

3RWK team working to improve waters by planting button bushes along riverbanks (Photo courtesy of Three Rivers Waterkeeper.)

The Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River and serve as a source of drinking water, recreation and pride for Pittsburgh. However, the rivers are threatened by myriad issues: industrial pollution, increased flooding events combined with sewage overflows, habitat degradation, such as invasive plant and wildlife species, erosion, litter, transportation of hazardous materials, oil and gas waste and lax enforcement and deregulation of the Clean Water Act. Now, facing the threat of fracking, a process that uses high-pressure fluid injections to shatter rock formations and extract natural gas, 3RWK has joined other groups in petitioning the EPA to not allow a company to construct and operate an injection well along the rivers. 3RWK has also filed suit to stop a Styrofoam company from contaminating the Ohio River with small plastic pellets flowing from its factory. The plastics break down into even smaller pieces in the river and pose a threat to humans and aquatic life.

For more information:

Groups Threaten to Sue Beaver County Plastics Manufacturer for Releasing ‘Nurdles’ into Ohio River Tributary – The Allegheny Front, October 2023

Pennsylvania DEP investigating oil on Monongahela River near McKeesport – KDKA CBS News Pittsburgh, October 2023

The Colorado and Ohio rivers are among the ‘most endangered’ in America. Here’s why – NPR, April 2023

Kayaking the healing, but polluted, Allegheny River system – Public Source, August 2022

Dorothy Terry

Dorothy Terry

Dorothy Terry is a journalist by profession, having worked as a daily newspaper reporter on both coasts and a contributing writer for several national magazines. She is a former Congressional press secretary and has worked as a communications manager and consultant for corporations and nonprofits.


Heather Hulton VanTassel, Executive Director


Social Media

Climate Impacts

Drought, Erosion-Subsidence, Flooding, Heat

Environmental Justice Concerns

Coal/Coke Plants and Emissions, Fighting Development/Destruction of Wildlife/Extinction of Species, Fracking/Oil and Gas Development/Pipelines, Groundwater Contamination, Hazardous/Toxic Sites, Incinerator/Dumping/Landfill, Lead Contamination, Noise/Light Pollution, Nuclear Power Plants, PFAS/PFOS, Sewage/Sewage Treatment


Community Organizing and Education, Green Infrastructure, Legal/permit challenges to development, contamination, pollution, etc, Nature-Based Solutions, Policy Reform, Political activism, including protests, petitions, and lobbying, Risk mapping and/or monitoring e.g. flooding/contaminants etc

501c3 Tax Deductible


Accepting Donations