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Assessing the Feasibility of Integrated Watershed Commissions in Michigan

Water is one of the most valuable resources in Michigan, and the current approach in managing water
in the state and throughout the Great Lakes basin is highly fragmented.  Convenience, expediency, and
tradition have resulted in water often being managed according to political, rather than natural,
boundaries.

We have embarked on a new project, titled "A New Approach to Managing Water in the State of
Michigan: Assessing the Feasibility of Integrated Watershed Commissions" with current support
from the Mott Foundation, the Frey Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County.

The overarching goal of this project is to assess opportunities for managing Michigan's water resources
in a more coordinated fashion.  By better aligning water management efforts with natural boundaries, a
new watershed-based governance approach can yield key benefits across the state, including:

  • Economic efficiencies
  • Improved water quality and quantity
  • Enhanced coordination among different levels of government
  • Strengthened public awareness and support for local, state, and regional Great Lakes water
    resources.

Integrated Watershed Commissions represent the type of multi-stakeholder governance, ecosystems-
based approach underscored in Michigan's recently drafted water strategy: Sustaining Michigan's Water
Heritage
.

The findings from this study will be valuable to people involved in many, if not most, water resource
issues, including local watershed councils, state natural resource agencies, drain commissioners, and
other stakeholders, both within Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes basin.  Given the complexity of
current and future water resource issues, it is essential that we manage our water resources in a
coordinated, strategic manner.  Integrated Watershed Commissions are a possible mechanism to
achieve that goal.


Funding for this project is provided by the Mott Foundation, the Frey Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County.