GOLD2023

SAVANNAH RIVERKEEPER INCORPORATED

It's your river, Protect it!

aka Savannah Riverkeeper   |   Augusta, GA   |  www.savannahriverkeeper.org

Mission

The Savannah Riverkeeper serves as the primary guardian of the Savannah River striving to respect, protect, and improve the entire river basin through education, advocacy, and action. \n\nWe are a 501 c (3) non-profit organization funded by individuals and foundations that share our commitment to creating a clean and healthy river that sustains life and is cherished by its people. \n\nVISION\nThe Savannah Riverkeeper strives to be an effective and sustainable organization solely focused on making the Savannah River a healthy and productive watershed ensuring the natural, economic, and recreational viability of the basin as a whole now and for generations to come.

Notes from the nonprofit

YouTube Channel Launch\n\nWe are happy to announce the launch of our new YouTube channel! For those who can’t get outside much at all right now, we have a cool video tour of the Middle Savannah River. There is still A LOT of water from our months of rainfall, so the swamps are full, teeming with life, and are absolutely beautiful!\n\nCheck it out here: https://youtu.be/mLkkrupARzY

Ruling year info

2001

Executive Director and Riverkeeper

Tonya Bonitatibus

Main address

PO Box 60

Augusta, GA 30903 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

58-2630660

NTEE code info

Environmental Quality, Protection, and Beautification N.E.C. (C99)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2022, 2021 and 2020.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Clean Water Act requires our waterways be fishable, swimmable, and drinkable. Pollution, litter, coal ash toxins, and industry usage continues to threaten the health of the Savannah River watershed. With more than 1.5 million people getting their drinking water from the Savannah every day, the need to protect the watershed has never been greater. Savannah Riverkeeper is the guardian of the waterway, ensuring the residents of the Savannah River watershed are defended, educated, and advocated for. We champion their rights to fishable, swimmable, drinkable water.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Clean Water Act Enforcment

According to the EPA Toxics Release Inventory, the Savannah River is currently the 7th most toxic river in the United States.

Diverse activities and topography result in many types of pollution. A large river basin, variety of waters and land use activities and changes in topography, create many water pollution and other environmental problems.

We track Clean Water violations, work with both private individuals, private businesses and governmental agencies to identify problems, create solutions to stop the polluting act, and facilitate having the waterways restored.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Currently 23 abandoned boats lie on the shoreline and in the water from Augusta to Savannah. Nine of these are located between the Diversion Dam and Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in Augusta. Threats posed by abandoned boats include navigational hazards, pollutant release in the form of oil, gas and sewage and contamination from deteriorating paint and fiberglass. The responsibility of removing such dangerous property is a very time consuming and expensive undergoing. The Riverkeeper works in conjunction with the Augusta Ports Authority to remove these hazards from our waterway one at a time.

Savannah Riverkeeper's Veterans for Clean Water project is working on Butler Creek a GA 303D impaired creek, and is frequently troubled by bacterial contamination. The creek suffers from blockages by litter and large debris, and is impassable to recreation.
Savannah Riverkeeper (SRK) is leading efforts that aim to restore streamflow on this creek making it passable for recreation, to reduce litter, improve public awareness, and to monitor water quality pinpointing problem sources and alerting the public. Project methods will include regular workdays and major service projects throughout the year, educational outreach, and weekly water quality sampling. Results will be communicated through the Swim Guide app and website. Savannah Riverkeeper’s Veterans for Clean Water (VFCW) program has helped us develop better relationships with community partners including Forces United, Fort Gordon’s NCO Academy, Richmond County Marshal’s Office, CityServe, Keep Augusta Beautiful, Central Savannah River Land Trust, Augusta Woman’s Club, universities, high schools, and neighborhood associations that frequently provide volunteer power and other support. The result will be a healthy creek that is accessible to the community.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Every year since the founding of the Savannah Riverkeeper in 2001, SRK has hosted the Rivers Alive clean up in Augusta. Since this time, the organization has expanded the cleanups to include locations in Savannah. SRK arranges at least four major cleanups held in both Augusta and Savannah each year with smaller clean ups in between. In 2019 we arranged more than 125 cleanup from Tybee Island, downtown Savannah Ga, Garden City Ga, Allendale SC, North Augusta SC, Augusta SC cleaning out over 25 tons of trash, tires, and debri from our waterways and communities.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Economically disadvantaged people

Training Adopt-A-Stream teams to test the creeks and rivers in the Savannah River Watershed.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Economically disadvantaged people

VFCW connects area veterans with opportunities to volunteer in the community doing critical water quality monitoring, which means they test local recreation and swimming spots for bacteria that could make people sick. We have seen veterans transformed into healthier, happier versions of themselves when given the opportunity to serve and protect their fellow citizens once more through meaningful projects. They learn technical and field skills, and gain outdoor on-the-water experience that has been proven to positively impact mental health.

VFCW is an innovative program that connects two very important missions: clean water for all people, and support for our nation’s veterans.

Population(s) Served
Veterans
People with disabilities

Humans risk of getting sick from recreating in the river increases as E. coli concentrations, and therefore other pathogens associated with fecal waste, increase. Georgia's standard for E. coli is 360 colony forming units per 100mL. For a designated swimming area, E. coli concentrations shouldn’t exceed this amount. The higher the level goes from here, the more swimming should be limited. At 365 cfu/100mL the EPA estimates approximately 9 in 1,000 people will contract an illness from contact with the water. Young people and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to become sick. When we say sick, we’re talking about “swimmer’s ear,” upset stomach, diarrhea, but also very serious illnesses from Salmonella, Shigella, Giardia and the like which can be transported in water.
Generally, E. coli levels increase with rainfall which causes runoff from land (urban and agricultural) and can also overwhelm sewer plants. During hot, sunny days of summer, E. coli levels are often extremely low on our lakes because the ultraviolet rays of the sun kill bacteria. A creek, no matter how pristine, will almost always have higher bacteria counts than an open area of the lake.
We quantify total coliform bacteria and E. coli using the IDEXX Colilert system. This is the most expensive and intricate part of our Swim Guide program. We spent a lot of time and money making sure we deliver quality results to you!
So before you swim, check our Swim Guide and make sure you’re safe! Remember, river conditions are always changing and our sample are only collected for one second and at each site once per week. Be especially careful swimming after major rain events.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Lower Savannah River Alliance 2016

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total pounds of debris collected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Community and Waterway Clean Ups

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Swim Guide Uses in our area of responsibilty

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Swim Guide

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of times we monitor pubic swimming, & fishing sites for water contamination

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Swim Guide

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of organization members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Facebook followers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of stakeholders/stakeholder groups with whom communication has been achieved and expectations shared

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Savannah Riverkeeper works directly with residents, landowners, organizations, politicians, utilities, and other stakeholders to build an atmosphere of understanding and appreciation around water needs of the Savannah River. We connect to all people of the watershed, ensuring the people in the upper watershed know the people on the coast also depend on the river to survive. Our goal is to ensure decision makers, business leaders, developers, and residents keep water resources atop their priorities and make the best choices to ensure the Savannah River remains swimmable, fishable, and drinkable.

Restore. Protect. Educate.\n\nSavannah Riverkeeper’s work stands on three pillars; restore, protect, and educate. We work to restore water quality when issues are identified, to restore flow when obstructions are found, and to restore the natural health of the ecosystem. We then work to protect the restored waterway and continually protect the Savannah River watershed. Education about our work, the river’s importance, and ways to get involved and stay invested in protecting the watershed is an ongoing process that serves as a force multiplier and protects our work for generations.

We stay active and connected to our communities, local governments, stakeholders, utility departments, fishing groups, and industries who rely on the river systems. We also monitor water flow and quality with our Adopt-a-Stream program and Veterans for Clean Water sampling and testing program. Putting those information gathering tools together, we have a vast network of capabilities to understand issues affecting the water and the people depending on it. We then utilize our capabilities and expertise with biochemists, public relations, and government relations to help change laws, inform decision makers, activate and advocate for the public, and change systems to restore and protect the watershed.

Since 2001, Savannah Riverkeeper has grown to become the recognized expert on issues pertaining to the Savannah River. We engage in hundreds of media calls each year discussing a wide variety of issues from the top of the river to the ocean in Savannah, GA. We developed a strategy to work with non-traditional partners focused on landowners to stop the Palmetto Pipeline from threatening our waterways. That progress and experience took our work and our executive director to the stage of TedX to share that valuable knowledge with others. We organized community members, collected evidence, and helped organize a coalition of experts to bring a lawsuit against Kinder Morgan to hold the company accountable for one of the largest oil spills in South Carolina history and enforce environmental laws. In fifteen years, We took our river from having the third-highest annual pollutant discharges in the nation to not even appearing on the top-25 list. We worked with legislators in Georgia and South Carolina to increase protections and awareness of the river’s vitality and importance. We worked with federal legislators and agencies to bolster endangered species laws, water resource laws, and other environmental protections to ensure the longevity of this incredible resource for generations to come. We worked with volunteers to remove over 200 tons of trash and debris from our waterways and grew our volunteer water quality program to over 60 locations throughout the Savannah River basin. We created our award-winning Veterans for Clean Water program and have over 15,000 people using our swim guide data to make informed decisions about their waterway uses each year, while helping give Veterans in our community another avenue to get involved and continue serving their communities. Next, we will finish work to complete the largest river restoration in U.S. history by returning the oxbows to their natural state after 100’s of miles of river were cut for commercial traffic in the early 20th century. We will continue to defend the river against new and evolving threats that could endanger the future of our communities’ rights to a clean environment and fishable, swimmable, drinkable water.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time

Financials

SAVANNAH RIVERKEEPER INCORPORATED
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

SAVANNAH RIVERKEEPER INCORPORATED

Board of directors
as of 07/31/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Chuck Hardin


Board co-chair

Bo Hunter

Hunter Law Firm

Term: 2020 - 2025

Chuck Hardin

Whitecap Paddle Boarding

Joe Hinely

Retired

Emily Kurilla

Hasley Recreation

Martin Shelton

Lewis Brisbois Att

Frank Carl

Retired

Bo Hunter

Hunter Law Firm

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/31/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/31/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.