Rebecca Drohan, who has been on the Coastal Carolina Riverwatch staff since 2018, is now the Coastal Carolina Waterkeeper.
Coastal Carolina Riverwatch announced Monday that its board of directors had recently appointed Drohan, describing the role of Waterkeepers as a voice for local watersheds who actively monitor water quality and protect waterways from pollution.
The group said Waterkeepers focus on localized bodies of water while working collectively with neighbors to address larger issues. They work to hold polluters accountable and engage the public through education and outreach.
Since joining Coastal Carolina Riverwatch, Drohan has organized outreach efforts on various water quality topics, coordinated volunteers for litter cleanups and water monitoring and organized the Crystal Coast Chapter of Ocean Friendly Establishments.
As program coordinator with Coastal Carolina Riverwatch, Drohan worked to engage the community through coordinating volunteers for litter cleanups and water monitoring, interactive programming for school-age children, creating virtual outreach content and partnering with local businesses on plastic reduction initiatives. During the past three years her on-the-job training included water sample collection and analysis, aerial watershed observations and water quality advocacy.
She holds a bachelor’s in sustainable development with a concentration in ecology from Appalachian State University.
Her background includes outdoor education at Hemlock Bluffs State Nature Preserve and organizing on fossil fuel issues in the Chesapeake region.
Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Executive Director Lisa Rider said in a statement that they are grateful to work alongside Drohan.
“She is a true advocate for our waterways. She walks it like she talks it and is a role model for others wanting to do more to protect the quality of water and quality of life in eastern North Carolina. She has the perfect combination of technical skills and passion that supports our mission,” she said.
Board President Rick Kearney said that during her nearly three years with the organization, Drohan had rapidly grown into her responsibilities and was ready to take on the new challenges of Waterkeeper.
“She is passionate about our mission of water quality and fully prepared to elevate our work in protecting the ENC environment,” he said.
Board Vice President Katie Tomberlin said she met Drohan during her first week on the Riverwatch staff.
“I have been fortunate to witness her passion for the environment, work alongside her and watch her grow in this field. She is exactly what we need here in a Waterkeeper, and we are lucky to have her on board with us,” she said.
The group said Drohan will lead several initiatives in her new role, including a campaign, Pure Farms Pure Waters, to work with other North Carolina Waterkeepers and statewide advocates to address the effects on water quality from concentrated animal feeding operations. The group monitors bacteria levels surrounding these operations and conducts aerial monitoring for potential violations. The group says it supports sustainable farms.
The group is also working to address microplastics pollution and water quality issues impacting North Carolina fisheries.
“Being your Waterkeeper is a position I am honored to have, and one I take very seriously. Having grown up kayaking, swimming, and exploring North Carolina’s watersheds, I developed a great admiration for our natural world and became inspired to protect it. However, not everyone has been afforded the same privilege of clean and safe waterways to enjoy. Our rivers, estuaries, and coastal waters are so precious but are subject to many threats. As Waterkeeper I will advocate for clean water for all.” said Drohan.
Concerns about watershed conditions can be reported to Coastal Carolina Riverwatch at www.coastalcarolinariverwatch.org/report-a-problem/.