There are a wide variety of activities taking place in the Watershed involving water. Many of the organizations who are responsible for promoting, and protecting our water by educating, and engaging the community face hurdles. In the past these groups operated independently from one another, but with the increased watershed management effort, and campaigns like Pollution Isn’t Pretty, strategic collaboration has started to happen more and more. We seek to serve the groups focused on watersheds and water quality, to help them overcome hurdles such as, funding, promotion, reaching those not in the “know” and relationship building.
Every organization is unique, however, similarities have been found through the feedback gained at the Food & Conversation events and one-on-one meetings. Supporting the existing watershed and water quality programs will build an increased sense of community, thereby, energizing the concept of placemaking and local economic innovation. Water resources provide recreational opportunities, tourism, business development, and healthy lifestyles for residents. Defining the Middle Grand River Watershed as a model for placemaking will attract and sustain eager and community driven citizens.
It is through focusing on collaboration that we seek to create a unified and collective impact for our water. This overarching strategy for success will also address perhaps the greatest need in the Watershed, changing public perception. There is still a public perception in the Watershed that our rivers are dirty – polluted. Due to the historic uses of the Watershed, many of which were driven by manufacturing and land development, our rivers were at one point far more polluted than they are today. Through changing practices and adopting policies such as, the Clean Water Act, our rivers have come a long way and continue to improve. There still remains much to be done to increase public engagement and stewardship of our rivers so they continue to thrive far into the future.
Excerpt from our draft strategic plan.