DAVENPORT ─ More than you might imagine — that is if the condition of your drinking water is a concern. Local novelist Joan Mauch first heard the term “waterkeeper” when she read about it in the newspaper. “The term puzzled me as I had never heard it before,” she said. The article featured Art Norris, the Quad-Cities’ waterkeeper. “We had our very own waterkeeper? And what exactly was he doing with our water? To me sounded a bit odd.”
Upon digging, Mauch learned the term, “waterkeeper” refers to an organization affiliated with the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international organization that unites almost 200 independent nonprofits funded by donations and grants.
According to Marc Yaggi, director of global programs for the New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance, waterkeepers wear a lot of hats including that of scientist, investigator and community advocate. “The ultimate goal is to ensure their community’s right to clean water is upheld,” Yagi said.
Waterkeeper Norris said the organization’s purpose was to be the eyes and ears of the Mississippi River. His duties include looking for water pollution issues, specifically those that impact the Mississippi from Clinton to Muscatine or any part of the Rock River and finding ways to address the problems.
Mauch contacted Mr. Norris and to her dismay learned that our regulatory authority isn't protecting our drinking water. “He said that in many cases they actually aid in covering up the polluter. It’s all about money.”
According to Norris, we need waterkeepers to oversee what regulators are allowing. “Illinois has four of the most polluted rivers in the nation. Iowa has 624 lakes, rivers and streams unfit for human use. To me it’s about leaving a better place for our children. They won't have much of a chance if we don't change this,” he said.
Thinking there could be a novel in there somewhere, Ms. Mauch asked if being a waterkeeper was dangerous.
Mr. Norris said he’s been attacked and threatened many times. “They killed my dog. Scared my wife to death. I have three daughters and a son. The polluter and friends sent me a Father's Day card. I understood this was threat. It's a heavy price to pay. It's not for everyone. Maybe your book will bring things to light.”
Joan Mauch’s latest novel, “The Waterkeeper’s Daughter” ($3.99 e-book, $16.95 paperback, Whiskey Creek Press and Start Publishing), is a mystery about revenge, murder and reconciliation. A man wants to get even for the havoc wreaked on his family and their farm caused by the spraying of pesticides. All his life, Harold Johnson has suffered for what that crop duster did; now it's his turn to grieve. First he'll target the guy’s son, Lake Okeechobee's waterkeeper, Craig Whitaker, then he'll go after his pretty daughter, Annie. And he'll make it perfectly clear what he’s doing — and why. CT Whitaker will learn the meaning of the word, "regret" — but by then, it will be too late. “The Waterkeeper’s Daughter” will appeal to those who enjoy a good mystery along with a brief look at the sorry state of our nation's waterways.
“It fires me up because I have been on missions where you wonder if you will make it back,” Mr. Norris said. “We risk our lives to save our rivers, It’s sad it has to be this way. That's why we need a following to be effective.” If you would like to volunteer or donate to the QC Waterkeeper’s movement, visit the Quad Cities Waterkeeper’s website at: http://www.quadcitieswaterkeeperuppermississippi.org/links_resources.html
On Nov. 25, “The Waterkeeper’s Daughter” will be released as an e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Whiskey Creek Press’ website: whiskeycreekpress.com
. The paperback may be ordered on the author’s website at joanmauch.com
or through the publisher. Ms. Mauch’s earlier novels include: “Halifax” (2013) and “The Mangled Spoon” (2014) also published by Whiskey Creek Press. Visit her website at www.joanmauch.com
, her Facebook author page at facebook.com/joanmauch.author
or follow her on Twitter.
Mark your calendar! Book signings are scheduled for Nov. 22 at South Park Mall from 1-4; The Book Rack in Davenport from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 6, 4764 Elmore Ave Drive; and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the Moline Book Rack, 3937 41st Ave.
Waterkeeper Art Norris and Joan will give a joint presentation at Read Local, a program sponsored by the Bettendorf Library on Feb. 11, 2015 from 7-9:00 p.m. He will discuss the Waterkeepers' movement, its role in protecting the Mississippi River and how to get involved. Joan will talk about writing “The Waterkeeper’s Daughter” and read a chapter from it.