One fact is clear: water access is crucial to the industry's efforts to grow boating. Recognizing this, a Grow Boating Initiative Water Access Task Force was established and charged with:
• Measuring availability and changes in waterways access
• Identifying ways to preserve and/or increase waterways access
• Involving all industry stakeholders in the process
• Developing ways that concerned boaters can get involved in protecting access
Thus, the Water Access Alliance (WAA) was born. Open to anyone concerned about preserving boaters’ waterways access, the Water Access Alliance is made up of a diverse group of experts and stakeholders in the recreational boating industry.
To address the broad scope of water access challenges, the WAA formed focus groups to concentrate on specific issues.
WAA cannot achieve its goal of increasing water access without also maintaining existing access. In order to maintain public access, yet ensure marina and boatyard owners can capitalize on their investment, WAA urges local governments to adopt a proactive “no net loss” approach to water access. The intent of this approach is to both encourage new development and maintain public access sites.
This approach has been adopted with success at locations in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. For example, in Martin County Florida, developers who purchase marinas are required to maintain or increase the number of public access slips—either within the revitalized facility or elsewhere—when redeveloping a site.
In the final tally, everyone wins. Marina and boatyard owners realize the full value of their property. And the public keeps its waterways access.
Water access is a challenge coast to coast. It is a complex issue; finding ways to expand and preserve waterway access will require the cooperation of many diverse groups and the coordination of information, tools and resources. The Water Access Alliance is a way for the industry to work together and ensure that the boating lifestyle is accessible to everyone. Check out the task forces below to see how we can make the first steps to improve access today!
Most water access issues are local in nature. The key to gaining support for public access at the local level is to provide data that shows the positive impact boating has on communities. To this end, the WAA Statistics Focus Group worked with Dr. Ed Mahoney of Michigan State University to find ways to measure access and its economic impact.
Brownfields are properties that are complicated by the presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. By EPA estimates there are more than 465,000 brownfields in the United States; many of these are on waterfront property. WAA is focused on building a network to work with groups that have the know-how and resources to identify and redevelop waterfront brownfields.
Boating access is a national issue that occurs at a local level. WAA works closely with national groups across the country develop a unified strategy to address boating access. It also partners with local groups to tackle community-specific issues.
Federal, state and local governments play a vital role in boating access. WAA works closely with all levels of government to ensure that decision makers are receiving accurate information and understand the growing need for boating access.
Marina and other water access permitting programs often make it difficult to create, maintain or expand boating facilities. WAA’s goal is to simplify the permit system for development and maintenance of recreational boating facilities.