Jeff Kelble stepped out of his fishing guide raft and into conservation work in 2005 when he started and became the Shenandoah Riverkeeper. Before he became Shenandoah Riverkeeper, he worked for 8 years to build a private smallmouth bass guiding business and a bed and breakfast which he ran with his wife Erika. It was after years of fish kills which devastated the Shenandoah River’s fishery that Jeff decided to put down his oars to join the fight for the river and its health. In 2014, Jeff transitioned from fighting pollution and protecting public use of the rivers to become president of Potomac Riverkeeper Network.
As Riverkeeper Jeff focused on investigating fish health problems and quickly became a regional expert and advocate. Jeff spent years scouring the river and the land for pollution sources and fighting to stop pollution with community action and legal enforcement. Now Jeff works to create an environment and direction at Potomac Riverkeeper Network where his Riverkeepers and program staff are supported and can devote all of their time and energy to the river.
Jeff served as Conservation Chairman, Newsletter Editor, Vice President and President of the Potomac River Smallmouth Club, was a founding board member of Earthkorps, and serves as Secretary of his daughters’ school board. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Factors Engineering from Tufts University.
Ed Merrifield, President Emeritus
Ed Merrifield served as President & Potomac Riverkeeper from 2003 to 2012. As a sailor on the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac for over 25 years, Ed sought ways to make a real difference and find new approaches to protecting the health of our rivers and streams. This led Ed to come out of retirement in 2003 to work full-time on water quality as the Potomac Riverkeeper. As a forceful and effective leader at the grassroots, regional and state levels, he has advanced environmental policy and enforcement of clean water laws. Ed is an expert on Clean Water Act enforcement, especially on the Total Maximum Daily Load and National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit issues. He served on the Maryland State Water Quality Advisory Committee and the Maryland Tributary Team from 1997 to 2012. Ed is considered one of the most influential environmentalists in the Chesapeake Bay region
During his tenure, Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc. evolved from an idea into a robust and effective organization, which filled a critical unmet need in the Potomac River region, allowing the people who treasure this unique national resource to protect it, primarily by direct action against polluters. Under Ed’s leadership, Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc. fulfilled its mission to stop pollution and restore clean water in the Potomac River and its tributaries.
What drove Ed: “When the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, they wrote into it the goal that we’d be putting zero of our pollution into the water by 1985. We haven’t come close to that. That’s what drives me — getting to 1985.”
Highlights of enforcement actions:
- Stopped several sewage treatment plants from illegal discharges in West Virginia and Maryland.
- Stopped 60,000 pounds per year of illegal nutrient pollution from a Virginia sewage treatment plant.
- Forced Maryland to cleanup massive amounts of lead in Seneca Creek.
- Forced improvements at the watershed’s largest coal fly ash dump to stop toxic pollutants from leaching into local waters.
- Forced long overdue permits to be drafted for three major polluters in Maryland.
- Legally challenged the proposed general permits in Maryland and Virginia for construction stormwater, industrial stormwater, and municipal separate storm sewer systems for lack of enforceability and to call for increased public participation.
- Forced several federal agencies and the District of Columbia to start clean up of toxic pollution on land near the mouth of the Anacostia River.
- Forced the Maryland Department of Agriculture to allow public access to nutrient management plans for poultry farms.
- Convinced Virginia to apply the poultry waste land application rules to all using the waste.
- Petitioned the EPA regarding Maryland’s failure to properly administer and enforce the Clean Water Act.
- Decreased allowable limits of pollution by 25% in a Maryland sewage treatment plant
- Forced EPA to follow the TMDL (total maximum daily load) rules in DC resulting in daily testing for bacteria starting in 2013.
- Corrected illegal sediment pollution in many developments in Virginia, including one of the largest construction sites, the 495 HOT lanes.
- Stopped excessive pollution from a paper mill in West Virginia.
- Challenged permits for a proposed quarry in West Virginia that will threaten local drinking water supplies.
- Filed a lawsuit to clean up septic sewage discharges using an innovative approach under the Clean Water Act.
- Opposed attempts to include pollution trading in TMDLs, which was not intended under the Clean Water Act.
The Washingtonian named Ed Merrifield one of the most influential environmentalists, April 2008.
Ed is featured in Blue Legacy International’s 2010 film: Our Nation’s River a System on the Edge.
Ed provided background and hosted the film crew for Hedrick Smith’s 2009 Frontline documentary, Poisoned Waters.
In October 2012, Ed was honored in the U.S. House of Representatives for his service to the region as President of Potomac Riverkeeper.