The Southern Water Call is a coalition that collectively establishes policy priorities and organizational support for Southern-based local and regional water-focused organizations that advocate for and work with communities of color, low-income communities, and frontline communities in the South.

A Call to Action in the South

Advocating for water and climate justice in the South presents a unique set of challenges which are rooted in the history of racism, extractive relationships with our land and waters, and conservative decision makers that do not center the needs of our communities or value climate science. From plantations to petrochemicals, our region’s land and waterscapes have been treated as “sacrifice zones,” and our ancestors and communities have been seen as dispensable. As we strive for water equity and climate resilience, we call out race as it relates to water advocacy in the South, especially that of Black, Indigenous and migrant communities.

Many of our communities are situated near and on the Gulf Coast which is uniquely vulnerable to disasters, and our region is on the frontlines of climate change. Federal and state policies have continuously ignored and neglected the needs of Southern communities and deprioritized funding for marginalized communities across the South. With increasing risks of climate change and an unprecedented amount of federal funding available for water and climate reform, Southern Water Call members recognize that now is the time to collectively champion Southern needs and priorities and to call on our national partners to help advocate for Southern communities.

While often overlooked and disregarded, the South is rich—culturally, economically, and socially—yet we are in need of greater resources, funding, and policies to address the centuries of harm we have faced. We are energized by organizing and movement work that originated in our region, including the environmental justice and civil rights movements. We see this moment as an opportunity to collaboratively advocate for our waterways and people, and we are demanding a seat at the table. As members of the Southern Water Call, we have identified the following priorities to advance our growing water and climate needs.

Shared Regional Knowledge

Southern Water Call members recognize that our unique regional challenges require unique solutions. We must use tools and talking points that resonate with our communities and legislators. Through co-learning and sharing resources, we understand what works and what doesn’t work. We also share individual challenges and successes to unify our response to today’s water and climate crises. Our aim is to enable peer-to-peer exchanges that focus on creative strategies and leveraging laws and policies that uplift communities of color and frontline communities facing water and climate inequities.


  • Host bimonthly peer learning calls for members to share best practices, challenges, and lessons learned.

  • Develop a shared repository of resources, tools, and talking points tailored to Southern contexts.

  • Organize site visits and exchanges for members across the region to learn from on-the-ground work.

Narrative Change and Communications

Southern Water Call members recognize that in order to create the change we need, we must change how Southern communities and legislators view their relationship with water and the environment. We must also make water and climate policy accessible. Our aim is to inspire action and neutralize the political polarization of water and climate adaptation; to correct the false narrative that prioritizing environmental initiatives deprioritizes economic well being; to build the holistic view that prioritizing vulnerable communities not only uplifts members of those communities but all Southern residents; and to bring green infrastructure, nature-based solutions, sustainability, and resilience to the forefront of attainable solutions.


  • Create fact sheets that de-jargonize, educate on policies, and include key data to inform sound policy.

  • Center creative perspectives to reframe conversations on climate, environment, and equity that uplift sustainable practices through climate adaptation and community resiliency strategies.

  • Amplify community voices and stories through social media, creative arts, and other communications.

Stakeholder Engagement

Southern Water Call members also recognize that in order to change the water and climate narrative in the South, we must engage stakeholders in a meaningful way. We must leverage new and existing relationships with community members, elected officials, state agencies, partner organizations, water utilities, and others to advocate for equitable policies and negate the spread of disinformation. Our aim is to build a broad coalition of stakeholders united behind equitable access to clean and affordable water and sustainable water solutions.


  • Convene dialogues with diverse stakeholders to build trust and find common ground.

  • Equip members with tools and training for effective advocacy and organizing.

  • Use laws and policies to hold our government agencies, elected officials, and water utilities accountable.

Leverage Federal Funding

Southern Water Call members recognize that investing federal funding in Southern communities, particularly our most in-need communities, is vital to regional and community development, health, and well-being. Leveraging the historically unprecedented amount of available federal funds for water infrastructure and climate adaptation is key to ameliorating the historical environmental harms that have befallen communities of color and low-income communities. Our aim is to learn about opportunities to utilize federal funding streams and policies and to maximize benefits, using the Justice40 framework, for Southern populations facing climate-related challenges.


  • Educate members on accessing Justice40 funding streams and policies.

  • Provide technical assistance opportunities for project development and grant applications.

  • Advocate for equitable distribution of infrastructure funds to underserved Southern communities.

This work cannot be accomplished on our own. We call on Water Equity and Climate Resilience (WECR) Caucus members to learn about the unique challenges and historical inequities we face in the South; to learn from our struggles and successes; to bring resources, expertise, and opportunities to the South; and to play a pivotal role in supporting the priorities and needs of Southern Water Call members and Southern communities.

Support can be provided in a variety of ways. We welcome Caucus members to visit the South and see firsthand the issues we experience and meet folks on the ground working to build stronger communities. We welcome Caucus members to share resources and opportunities for funding, introduce us to experts and advisors that can aid our causes, and help us build relationships with key stakeholders. We welcome Caucus members to promote our work through listservs, newsletters, blogs, and media. We welcome Caucus members to use their own expertise to assist with policy reforms, draft public comment letters, and advocate for the most vulnerable communities in an already vulnerable region.

Lessons learned in the South can inform efforts to build climate resilience, replace aging infrastructure, expand access to clean water, and revitalize communities. Supporting work on the ground in the South provides opportunities for WECR to deepen relationships with community leaders, pilot new approaches, and refine best practices for regional scaling. By collaborating to advance priorities in the South, we can build knowledge and capacity that ultimately advances WECR’s mission to secure water equity, climate resilience, and environmental justice for all.