On Tuesday, June 8, 2021, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and Michigan Sea Grant co-hosted a Twitter chat using #WaterSchoolchat. The chat posed six questions related to Michigan Water School and Great Lakes stewardship. Analytics tools estimate that the hashtag reached over 64,000 people from being used 100 times in a 24-hour period. Contributors and participants included organizations like Clinton River Watershed Council, Great Lakes Now, Michigan Environmental Council, Council for the Great Lakes Region, SEMCOG, and others.
We prepared several questions to spark conversations about Michigan Water School and stewardship of the Great Lakes. Below are some of the responses.
- Response from Friends of the Rouge: Michigan Water school provides vital education, resources, and a well-informed network of water professionals to assist elected and appointed officials in making sound decisions for our community!
- Response from Rebecca Esselman: Michigan Water School provides a critical primer on water and water issues in Michigan for people in decision making positions.
- Response from Michigan Sea Grant: Michigan Water School is a program of MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant that helps city and county staff and elected and appointed officials increase their knowledge about critical Great Lakes issues impacting local watersheds.
- Response from Anne Brasie: The Clinton River Watershed Council loves Michigan Water School! Great program for our elected and appointed officials to learn more about protecting clean water in their communities!
- Response from Great Lakes Now: A program aimed at educating elected officials on water cycles through the Great Lakes and how decisions might impact that and Great Lakes communities!
- Response from Conan Smith: I spent 14 years as a county elected official and water was part of most of our work: tourism, agriculture, public health, etc. All of us could be better stewards with targeted training like this.
- Response from Friends of the Rouge: Decision makers holds an incredible amount of power in shaping the health and vitality of our community – and the responsibility of that cannot be taken lightly. Good leaders source good information!
- Response from Rebecca Esselman: Something we at Huron River Watershed Council have identified as a critical need. How can someone act on behalf of water without a strong understanding? And some exposure to the best strategies to address the most pressing problems. So happy to partner with Michigan Sea Grant to bring Michigan Water School to the Huron River.
- Response from SEMCOG: Mayor Christopher Taylor, Washtenaw River Council Evan Pratt, and Huron River Watershed Council illustrate the power of trusted voices to promote stewardship in this series of video tips!
- Response from SEMCOG: Water resources commissioner Jim Nash is another elected official with important things to tell us about water quality, what his office is doing to support a sustainable future, and how everyone can help.
- Response from Great Lakes Now: Not only do elected officials make important decisions relating to the Great Lakes and its watersheds they need to understand water issues to make progress in the fight for environmental justice.
- Response from Michigan Environmental Council: Clean water seems abundant in Michigan, but it’s a finite source. When elected officials can learn about our Great Lakes, they can become local state even national stewards of our state’s namesake!
- Response from Michigan Sea Grant: We’re seeing implementation of more green infrastructure, increased trip canopy goals, low impact development and more! Michigan Water School alumni like Mayor Owens have reported participating in programs that increase stewardship of the Great Lakes.
- Response from Friends of the Rouge: Getting more decision-makers to get excited about nature solutions, rain gardens, tree canopy, green infrastructure, and to have the tools to make Great Lakes change.
- Response from Friends of the Rouge: As an urban watershed the Rouge River and surrounding communities experienced flooding, combined sewer overflows, habitat loss, suburban sprawl, water quality, flash river, environmental justice, invasive species, heat land effect.
- Response from SEMCOG: In this video, Clinton River Watershed Council teaches us about the Clinton River Watershed, the issues they’re working on (like pollution entering storm drains) and how we can all be part of the solution!
- Response from SEMCOG: each watershed is unique. In this video the Friends of the St. Clair River tells some of their watershed’s stories and the huge impacts of active stewardship.
- Response from Rebecca Esselman: Synthetic chemicals and contaminant cleanups are expensive, huge public health risks and often so avoidable. Pharmaceuticals. PFAS. Dioxane. PAHs. PCBs. Plastics. We have to do better.
- Response from Michigan Sea Grant: Coastal development and other human activities are leading to water quality degradation, decline of fisheries, wetland loss, proliferation of invasive species, and a host of other challenges that need to be understood in order to restore and maintain these ecosystems.
- Response from Michigan Environmental Council: Stormwater runoff can overflow sewers and carry agricultural chemicals from field to water. Both create nutrient pollution, which cause algal blooms. They make lakes and streams smaller and beaches less swimmable.
- Response from Great Lakes Now: Where do we begin? Just looking at some of Great Lakes Now’s latest segments, drinking water contamination and shoreline erosion stand out!
- Response from Friends of the Rouge: LOVE WaterTowns! Hope to build stewardship through access and economic redevelopment on the Lower Rouge River Water Trail too!
- Response from Anne Brasie: We have 26 WaterTowns on board and two more in the process! Communities involved range from Eastpointe to New Baltimore, Mt. Clemens to Keego Harbor!
- Response from Michigan See Grant: Cities can start by doing a code audit to make sure that ordinances are updated to encourage more green infrastructure and water stewardship.
- Response from SEMCOG: We encourage all cities (and people!) to visit mionewater.com. There you will find a lot of educational and stewardship resources building on the great work of Southeast Michigan’s water quality partners!
- Response from Michigan Environmental Council: Cities need strategies to manage water runoff from roads, roofs, parking lots and more. Michigan Water School provides the education. City leaders then provide the framework and residents can help shape it. Then, it’s action time!
- Response from Great Lakes Now: One way is investing in more green infrastructure, which a lot of cities are already starting to do, but also important is finding ways to address water accessibility.
- Response from Voglesong Zejnati: Include water quality, biodiversity, and drinking water equity goals and principles in planning and zoning rules and decisions!
We’re grateful for the Water School chat participants who shared resources to learn more about Great Lakes stewardship and local watershed issues.
- Michigan Water School Advances Great Lakes Stewardship – Erb Family Foundation video
- Great Lakes Watersheds Map – Erb Family Foundation map
- Water School overview – Great Lakes Now video
- One Water: Clinton River Watershed – SEMCOG video
- One Water: Friends of the St. Clair River – SEMCOG video
- Shoring Up – Great Lakes Now – 1020 – Segment 1 – Great Lakes Now video
- One Water: Alliance of Downriver Watersheds – SEMCOG video
- One Water: Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office – SEMCOG video
- One Water: Pick Up Pet Waste – SEMCOG video
- Environmental Justice: Michigan’s goal is to be a national leader – Great Lakes Now article
- Water Access: As moratoria on shutoffs end, old problems return to the forefront – Great Lakes Now article