Advocacy is at the core of all URWA's activities. URWA operates as the "environmental conscience" of the region, advocating for sound environmental planning and policies. URWA delivers resources and environmental expertise to the citizens and local governments of the watershed region through: one-on-one contact with individuals, assistance to citizens' groups, advice and testimony before municipal land use decision makers and participation in regional and statewide coalitions.
The Upper Raritan Watershed Association
Reviews Site Plans: Site plans govern the use proposed for a particular tract of land. On its own volition, at the request of citizens or at the request of a municipality, URWA reviews and comments on a site's environmental concerns.
Reviews Master Plans: Master Plans govern a jurisdiction's overall land use objectives. Substantial issues such as zoning density, open space and water resources are addressed to assure that these plans are correct within the jurisdiction but more importantly, that they are appropriate from the perspective of the entire watershed region.
Provides expert comment or testimony: Expertise and data are provided in the site plan review process, but more frequently presented with proposed public policy. The advice of URWA is volunteered, or is given in response to a request from an outside entity.
Provides Geographic Analysis & Mapping (GIS): URWA's GIS Director provides maps to support regional initiatives such as the Raritan Basin Alliance, individual site plan reviews, municipal open space planning, and environmental resource inventories. The Association creates and updates a watershed-wide environmental resource inventory to influence land use planning on a local and regional basis.
Participates in Regional & Statewide Planning: Taking a coherent watershed-based approach, URWA seeks to realign public policy to support natural resource protection. URWA participates in regional coalitions such as the Raritan Basin Alliance and the Highlands Coalition. The Association participates in the development of the State Development and Redevelopment Plan to insure that it correctly represents the watershed region. URWA advocates for municipal participation in the State Plan.
Participates in Ordinance Development: URWA responds to requests from municipalities for objective information that facilitates the development of ordinances. Utilizing an Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI), each municipality is encouraged to develop and implement ordinances to protect natural resources.
Functions as a Watchdog (Reactive/Emergency): URWA reacts when environmental abuse is observed or reported. Because URWA has no direct statutory enforcement authority and government institutions have become more remote, and inaccessible to citizens, it has been our role to see to it that government does its job effectively within our watershed.
Provides Educational Opportunities: URWA offers "Wake Up Call", an information breakfast focusing on current environmental issues; through email and www.urwa.org action alerts and links to news are posted; position papers are developed to address issues; expertise and news is offered through the Association's newsletter, Headwaters; staff participates in municipal committees meetings to conduct education and outreach.
Promotes Coalitions: URWA fosters partnerships with local, county, state, private and non-profit entities to accomplish initiatives and strengthen efforts to influence policy and planning.