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Newly Founded Coachella Valley Waterkeeper Announces Its Associate Director

  • Environmental organization will address water-based issues facing the desert community
  • Waterkeeper is led by former Peace Corps agent Nina Waszak


Coachella Valley Waterkeeper is a new nonprofit organization fighting for clean water in the desert community. Nina Waszak, a former Peace Corps sustainable agriculturalist and active member of the desert community, will lead Waterkeeper in waterway cleanups, water monitoring, advocating for change, and educating youth on the Whitewater River Watershed.


The Whitewater River serves as a critical water resource that replenishes the Coachella Valley aquifer—a drinking source for 400,000 people, including the reservation for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla people, and 66,000 acres of farmland. For far too long, the river and aquifer have suffered from a legacy of poor development practices, overuse, and pollution. Coachella Valley Waterkeeper and Nina Waszak will address these complex water-based issues for the betterment of the desert community.


Garry Brown, executive director of Orange County Coastkeeper, founded Coachella Valley Waterkeeper after noticing a lack of leadership in the many water-based issues facing the desert community. Having already established Orange County Coastkeeper in 1999 and Inland Empire Waterkeeper in 2005, Brown saw the development of a desert-based Waterkeeper organization as a clear next step in solving Southern California’s clean water problems.

Nina Waszak, a former Peace Corps sustainable agriculture agent and environmentalist, will lead Waterkeeper as its founding associate director. As an avid hiker and camper, protecting natural spaces is of the utmost importance for Waszak. In her associate director role, she will coordinate watershed awareness programs and collaborate with water policymakers in the area.


Nina Waszak, Associate Director of Coachella Valley Waterkeeper: “I’m excited to get involved with the community. I love the natural spaces that the desert has to offer, and with Waterkeeper I can help protect those for generations to come.”

Garry Brown, Executive Director and Founder of Orange County Coastkeeper, Inland Empire Waterkeeper, Coachella Valley Waterkeeper: “The Coachella Valley has suffered from polluted waters for far too long. With a large agriculture industry and rapidly growing population, Coachella Valley’s water resources cannot continue to support this type of abuse. Nina is the perfect fit for the position as she is deeply connected with the desert community, bilingual in Spanish and English, and familiar with grassroots activism.”



20 YEARS OF ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: For twenty years, Southern California residents have relied on Orange County Coastkeeper to be their leading voice in protecting clean water. The organization works collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. Coastkeeper achieves this through innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 236 different independent programs across 29 countries. For more information, visit or call 714-850-1965.

COACHELLA VALLEY WATERKEEPER: Coachella Valley Waterkeeper is a grassroots, nonprofit water quality organization that wishes to enhance and protect the quality of the waterways within the Whitewater River Watershed. This is accomplished through five program tenets: advocacy, education, restoration, conservation and enforcement. Waterkeeper was founded by Orange County Coastkeeper in 2019. Waterkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 200+ different independent programs across 29 countries. For more information, visit