The Great Lakes Protection Fund and the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) announced the Great Lakes One Water Partnership, a new effort designed to help Great Lakes communities develop and implement projects that will secure the region’s water future. The partnership is a multiyear, basinwide initiative focused on engaging shoreline community foundations to advance a new era of water infrastructure management for the benefit of people and businesses in the Great Lakes basin.
With $1 million in seed funding from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, CMF and a team of water experts will coordinate an effort by a group of community foundations to organize in six Great Lakes regions throughout the United States and Canada. Additional funding sources are being invited to make similar investments in this initiative. The stakeholders in each group will collaborate to identify catalytic regional water infrastructure projects to pursue. Examples of projects could include those related to wetland restoration, deter nutrient or combined sewer overflow runoff or other critical infrastructure priorities.
“Water defines our region,” Dave Rankin, vice president of programs at the Great Lakes Protection Fund said. “It is the foundation of our economy and it anchors our quality of life. To solve our water problems, we cannot rely on the usual players or old strategies. This initiative is designed to bring communities together and give them the power to collectively secure their own water futures. We need new voices and new perspectives around the table, and this initiative is centered on investing in community foundations who can be a force for change.”
Rob Collier, president and CEO of CMF said: “Community foundations are anchors, and often serve as silent partners working tirelessly in communities. With trust in government at an all-time low, community foundations can step up as trusted partners and agents to drive positive change. That is why this initiative helps community foundations lead the way for collaborative water progress.”
CMF has assembled a top-tier, multidisciplinary team to work with the shoreline community foundations to advance their goals. Lansing-based public policy research firm Public Sector Consultants will serve as the project manager, with SAL Consulting serving as liaison to the six participating regions. The U.S. Water Alliance will provide strategic advisory services to the overall initiative and communications support to the six regional teams.
In 2018, the six regions will work with diverse stakeholders in their communities to clarify the shared water infrastructure opportunities and develop an action plan. Once the action plans are established, the regional teams will receive implementation grants. Over the life of the initiative, the community foundations will also receive technical assistance and access to the latest tools, strategies and research on water messaging to help them implement their projects and better tell their own water stories in their communities.