Advocacy and enforcement to improve water quality


Nearly the entire State of Maryland lies within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which includes the rivers and streams feeding into the Bay. The Chesapeake Bay itself is approximately 200 miles long and supports more than 3,600 species of plant and animal life, including 2,700 types of plants and more than 16 species of underwater grasses. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed is the largest estuary in United States and the third largest in the world. Advocacy and enforcement to improve water quality of this precious environmental resource is, therefore, vitally important.

The mission of the Rauch Foundation, as it relates to the environment in Maryland, is to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by increasing land and water protection and restoration, expanding the capacity of other organizations to do this work, engaging citizens in this work, and transforming systems that impede progress. The Foundation’s work in Maryland has three goals: 

  • Improve water quality by reducing pollution;
  • Conserve land by reducing and preventing pollution, by encouraging less polluting farming practices, by protecting and restoring environmentally sensitive land, and by encouraging redevelopment of urban areas;
  • Strengthen citizen advocacy by engaging people in watershed-level work and issues that impact water quality.

The Rauch Foundation supports organizations serving the state of Maryland, with local work funded in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and the six counties of the mid- and upper Eastern Shore. Its efforts have built up small organizations and helped to develop a statewide advocacy presence.

Among the Rauch Foundation’s most visible success stories is facilitating the creation of Blue Water Baltimore through the merger of five environmental groups. Each of the groups had previously focused on its neighborhood stream and recognized that they could have broader impact collectively. More recently, the foundation supported, along with two other funders, the merger of three watershed organizations on Maryland’s Eastern Shore into ShoreRivers. This new entity now protects and restores the Choptank, Miles, Wye, and Sassafras Rivers.

Legal enforcement, statewide policy advocacy, green workforce development, and enhancing green infrastructure in urban and suburban environments are all areas of current interest for the foundation. 

Blue Water Baltimore

The Rauch Foundation was instrumental in creating Blue Water Baltimore in 2010 through the merger of five local watershed advocacy and conservation groups. The groups had all built their own identities through years of work, yet they agreed to relinquish their separate identities to achieve a broader regional impact. Read more.