Five of the city's watershed groups have taken a cue from the rivers they steward. Just as the waterways they look after converge in the Chesapeake Bay, so are the groups coming together to protect it.
Recently, Herring Run, Gwynns Falls, Jones Falls, Baltimore Harbor, and Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper groups joined forces to form Blue Water Baltimore, an organization that will shine more light on the city's pollution problems and raise grant money to solve them.
"We're not a huge city, so it didn't make sense to have all these sub-watersheds," says Eliza Steinmeier, Blue Water's environmental lawyer who specializes in Clean Water Act law and policy.
In 2006, Steinmeier founded the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, which utilizes the law to maintain clean water. She noticed that she was always collaborating with the four other watershed associations and the impetus for the merger was formed.
"The four watersheds had programs already on the ground, like installations of rain gardens and downspouts," says Blue Water's executive director Bob Gray. "With the Waterkeeper coming in to work with the law, all the pieces fit together."
The group is continuing the efforts of the watersheds (planting trees, picking up trash), but it's already seen results in terms of fundraising and legislative influence.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded the group a grant of $600,000 to improve crumbling alleyways with a modern new material that allows water to soak into pavement, instead of running off into storm drains.
"This project is really innovative," Gray says. "This is the kind of thing that probably wouldn't have happened if we were still a bunch of smaller groups."
In addition, Blue Water Baltimore is hoping to have a bigger representation at the state level, in order to advance policy that will improve the harbor and the bay.
"Before the merger, none of the groups had a legislative voice," Steinmeier says. "We hope to lobby for updates to a very antiquated storm drain system that is polluting a lot of our waterways."
Ultimately, the group is optimistic it can produce results, not only in Annapolis, but in everybody's community.
"We're not the only solution to the problem," Gray says. "We want to show that everyone has an impact on the waterways."