I’ve been asked this question over and over again and I always come back to the same notion: the people who make the smartest choices for their communities are the ones who understand their personal connection to water.
But who are they? And what qualifies them to lead?
I’ve learned that effective water leaders do have similarities and it’s these six qualities that I firmly believe define them:
- A water leader knows their personal water story.
They’ve identified their unique connection to water. They know their water story and these stories are what we call “watermarks.”
- A water leader is educated on their watershed.
They know where their drinking water comes from, where the water flows from, and what kind of fish live in the lakes and rivers.
- A water leader experiences their watershed.
They get out there. They swim in the water and paddle in it and eat from it.
- A water leader knows the rules that protect their watershed.
They know which laws and regulations protect the water.
- A water leader participates in decision-making.
They’re actively involved and engaged in protecting our water.
- A water leader truly commits to protecting what they love.
They take the final step and dedicate their lives to working for their watershed. This may mean they work full-time for their watershed or they dedicate their volunteer hours as a board member or they are a committed and engaged donor. In every case, their commitment is unmistakable.
These qualities don’t have to appear all at once, or in the same order. But they are present in every effective water leader.