Improving Water Management in the Great Lakes Basin

A team led by the Great Lakes Commission is working with communities in the United States and Canada to identify and test the ecological and financial rationales for pursuing water conservation and green infrastructure practices, and pilot how this information can drive better water management throughout the Great Lakes region.

The team is approaching this work from the viewpoint that water conservation, to be effective in the Great Lakes region, must include municipal supply, storm- and wastewater, and engage a different set of stakeholders than traditional water conservation strategies.

The team will pilot these approaches in six communities (three in the U.S., and three in Ontario):  the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario; the City of Waterloo, Ontario; the City of Guelph, Ontario; the Township of Lyons, Michigan; the Township of Commerce, Michigan; and Southwest Oakland County, Michigan. These communities extract water from a variety of ground and surface water sources and face challenges (such as the overuse of groundwater supplies, stream impacts from water withdrawal and discharge, and impacts related to stormwater runoff) that are common throughout the basin.

A detailed impact and infrastructure assessment will be conducted in each of the six pilot communities. This will include developing a set of management actions for each community that will reduce environmental impacts and decrease costs; tracking the rate at which the pilot communities implement the recommended actions and calculating the environmental and financial impacts; and creating and testing a series of knowledge transfer strategies that will help communities teach other communities.

The team will transfer the tools created in the pilots to communities throughout the basin. New communities of practice will be created around the most promising techniques that have ecological importance and basinwide applicability.

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