Audubon’s Water initiative will focus on landscapes where both water quantity and water quality are paramount to birds’ survival. Affecting public water policies is one key aspect of our work, but policy alone won’t be enough to address these challenging issues. Audubon and its partners will engage the public on water-management and water-quality issues; restore habitats along rivers, wetlands, and deltas; and explore market based solutions that contribute to the achievement of our water goals.

Theory of Change

Audubon will focus its technical and policy expertise and bring our network to bear to influence water-management decisions; these should balance the needs of birds, people, and economies in targeted rivers, lakes, and deltas across the United States. By directing our resources and involving our technical experts and network, we will improve water quality and increase water flows to enhance the functioning of habitats across priority landscapes.

How to Get There

Audubon will:

  • Expand our knowledge of water needs for birds and other wildlife, and establish a solid foundation of information on the impacts of water scarcity and water pollution on birds.
  • Strengthen the Audubon network of members and partners to advance balanced water-management decisions that benefit birds, habitat, and people.
  • Engage our conservation team and network in on-the-ground restoration actions that support our water goals.
  • Develop and advance market-based mechanisms to provide flexibility in water-management decisions.
  • Expand international partnerships to address water issues on a hemispheric scale.

Measurable Goals

  • 20 percent increase in protected or managed habitat acres that are important wintering, breeding, or stopover sites for birds in key landscapes.
  • One million acres of land managed, restored, and protected in critical watersheds.
  • International, federal, and state policy actions that ensure adequate flows to critical ecosystems, including the Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea, the Mississippi River and Delta, the Great Lakes, and the Greater Everglades.
  • 20 percent increase in federal and state funding or incentives to enhance water management and restoration action.
  • 250,000 people engaged in advocacy on water conservation measures.
  • 25,000 households participating in a new native habitat/xeriscaping program designed to reduce water consumption by 300 million gallons.
  • 75 chapters and 10 Audubon sanctuaries and nature centers engaged in advocacy, education, and on-the-ground actions.

Where We Work


Great Lakes

Millions of birds depend on coastal habitats along the Great Lakes for shelter, rest, and nourishment for their long journeys during migration.

Delaware River Watershed

Protecting freshwater in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania for birds and people.

Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake, with its five globally Important Bird Areas, is drying up. Audubon works with local stakeholders to find sustainable water solutions for birds and all Utahns.

Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is one of the most important places for birds in North America and is in danger of losing its ecological value. If it does, we will lose a vital part of the Pacific Flyway.

Colorado River Basin and Delta

With Audubon’s expertise in both Western water policy and conservation science, we are uniquely positioned to identify long-term water-management solutions that will secure a reliable water supply for wildlife and for people throughout the West.

Saline Lakes

Saline lakes and their associated wetlands throughout Intermountain West create a network of critical habitat that millions of birds depend on for breeding, resting and feeding during migration, and wintering.

Western Rivers

Audubon is working to identify, protect, and restore priority riparian Important Bird Areas throughout the Southwest

Mississippi River Delta

Audubon’s policy team and grassroots activists are instrumental in gaining national support for ongoing recovery work in the delta

Everglades Ecosystem

Audubon’s goal for the Everglades is to reestablish colonies of wading birds that have been displaced

Water News

Western Water News

Tribal-led Restoration in the Colorado River Delta

By Julia Morton
May 31, 2023 — Cocopah Tribe’s vision for the river and their land.
A rosa walking through the grass in a wetland

Supreme Court Decision Threatens Waterways that Birds (and People) Need

By National Audubon Society
May 25, 2023 — The Court’s ruling in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency removes crucial protections for wetlands, limiting the Clean Water Act.
A wilson's phalarope on water.
Western Water News

Utah’s Wet Winter Gives Some Reprieve to Great Salt Lake

By Karyn Stockdale
April 27, 2023 — But long-term water conservation solutions and secure water are still needed.
Western Water News

New Mexico Creates Conservation Fund to Protect Rivers, Wildlife, and More

By Judy Calman
March 28, 2023 — The historic trust will bring in more funds and promote climate resilience.
Western Water News

Who gets harmed as the Colorado River changes?

By Jennifer Pitt
March 09, 2023 — Negative impacts of water shortages will be vast.