Blue Water Baltimore:

Five watershed organizations become one

Blue Water Baltimore

The Rauch Foundation was instrumental in creating Blue Water Baltimore through the merger of five Maryland watershed advocacy and conservation groups. The participants had all built local identities through years of work, yet they agreed to relinquish their separate identities in hopes of making a greater regional impact.

Careful planning and a well-orchestrated process

The participants represented five organizations that evolved from grassroots efforts to protect Baltimore’s waterways: the Baltimore Harbor Watershed Association, Baltimore Harbor WATERKEEPER, Gywnns Falls Watershed Association, Herring Run Watershed Association, and Jones Falls Watershed Association.

The groups had informally considered the concept of joining forces for several years, but it was the economic crisis and resulting fundraising challenges that jump-started serious merger discussions.

The Rauch Foundation and other funders facilitated initial discussions and explorations, funded collaborative activities to help the organizations build relationships with one another, sought expertise from others who had gone through mergers, and networked with other funders to build support for the merger. We also made strategic grants linked to deadlines and specific goals, and supported organizational and staff development and training as part of the merger.

Going forward with increased strength

New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations are requiring state and local governments to become more focused on water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, so Blue Water Baltimore has an unprecedented opportunity to galvanize support, effect change, and influence regional policy. Today, with its combined strength, the organization is focusing on regional stormwater issues, public education, nutrient and sediment reduction, and greening neighborhoods throughout the metropolitan area.

Read the full article: Merger: The story of five Baltimore watershed organizations that became one

Read the report published 3 years after the merger: Launched: The first 3 years of Blue Water Baltimore