Suncoast Waterkeeper follows the functional model established by the Waterkeeper Alliance, built on the foundation of the original Hudson Riverkeeper, where the Suncoast Waterkeeper founder worked for several years. It is a watchdog model, in which either staff or a member of the public will report a possible violation of the Clean Water Act or other environmental regulation, or identify an environmental threat to a local waterway.
Waterkeeper staff will attempt to verify the violation, and assess both the physical and regulatory context in which it is occurring. A scientific assessment of the problem will be performed to establish with a high degree of certainty the nature and extent of the problem. The appropriate governmental and regulatory agencies will be contacted, and expected to respond. The entities responsible for the violation will be contacted, and a good-faith effort made to resolve the problem without enforcement actions.
If all these efforts amount to nothing, Waterkeeper will, after a reasonable period of time, consider more direct responses, such as public outreach, community organizing, demonstrations or legal action seeking injunctive relief, remediation and/or penalties.