An Overview of River Rally 2019: What to Expect


The Crooked River

River Rally always takes place in river cities. This time it’s in Cleveland, where the Cuyahoga “crooked river” arcs its way through the city. The Cuyahoga was once one of the most polluted rivers in the country–and, for a time, completely devoid of fish–due to industrial activities in Ohio cities along its banks. The passage of the Clean Water Act, the founding of the EPA, and numerous state-level efforts and agreements were inspired, in part, by the infamous Cuyahoga River Fire of 1969, when an oil slick on top of the river caught fire. At this year’s Rally, we will have an opportunity to learn from the stories bubbling up from this bedrock of grassroots organizing.

New Things at Rally

The Urban Waters Learning Forum, River Rally 2018

From June 21st to the 24th, hundreds of people will converge to discuss and celebrate rivers and water in Cleveland. Rally is trying a few new things year — a more condensed program, a special track of presentations by local groups, and a brand new Emerging Leader Award. During the morning and afternoon of Friday, June 21st, the Urban Waters Learning Network—that’s us—will host the Learning Forum, which is an opportunity for Learning Network members to meet fellow Urban Waters peers and engage in in-depth discussions on audience-generated topics. New this year, we’ll have a morning session dedicated to facilitated discussion on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Environmental Justice. When you register for Rally, be sure and check the box indicating that you’re attending the Urban Waters Learning Forum. To apply for scholarships, register by March 15.

For more information about the kinds of discussions you can expect at the Learning Forum, check out this video.

Workshops and Presentations

Every year, River Rally organizers receive a large number of abstract submissions—far too many to fit into the program—so the selection process is competitive. In 2019, workshop sessions, plenaries, and small group discussions are organized around four key issues:

  • Pursuing Safe, Clean, and Affordable Drinking Water
  • Advancing Robust and Effective Water Laws and Policies
  • Building Resilient Cities and Communities
  • Working with Farmers and Ranchers

Content also includes topics that practitioners working in the water space need to succeed and a special feature on lessons from the Great Lakes:

  • Expanding Impact through Science, Technology, and Monitoring
  • Sustaining Strong Leaders, Organizations, and Coalitions
  • Civic Engagement for Our Water Future
  • Innovative Solutions from the Great Lakes Region

To read about the sessions and other activities, go ahead and download the 2019 program.

Ways to Reduce Cost

It can be difficult for some individuals and groups to pay for travel expenses and registration fees. Discounts are available for River Network members (there is now a FREE membership option) as well as presenters, and there are scholarships available to help cover costs.

Lodging and Travel

River Rally participants are responsible for booking their own lodging, which can be done online. You can take advantage of the special group rates at the Westin, or explore other options in Cleveland. The closest airport is Cleveland-Hopkins International (CLE), which is only about 20 minutes away.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Important Dates

March 15th:  Scholarship Applications Due
March 15th:  Emerging Leader Self-Nominations Due
April 30th:  Early Bird Registration Ends

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