Water and Watersheds

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Oct 21, 2014 Comments Off on Water and Watersheds admin

Watersheds in the Northeast-Midwest region, ranging from freshwater river systems and lakes to estuarine systems and bays, are unique ecosystems with ecological and economic importance. Unfortunately, human impacts have degraded the region’s waters, impacting recreational and consumptive uses, and putting human health at risk. Advocates of comprehensive watershed and ecosystem management have long stressed the need for interagency and interstate cooperation and for management of resources according to natural, landscape-level boundaries rather than traditional political boundaries. The Northeast-Midwest Institute has played a unique leadership role in advancing this watershed approach in Congress.

The Institute has helped to establish a series of watershed-based, bipartisan Congressional task forces, including the Great Lakes Task Forces, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force, the Upper Mississippi River Basin Task Force, and the Delaware River Basin Task Force, which fall under the auspices of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional and Senate Coalitions. These task forces help organize ecosystem protection and restoration advocates into a strong and effective voice in Congress. Additionally, the Institute works to link policy makers with advocates and stakeholders in these watersheds to promote education and increase access to on-the-ground information.

The Institute participates in ecosystem restoration initiatives to ensure adequate national attention to and resources to protect the region’s waters.  Experience and a strong knowledge base in large-scale ecosystem restoration of watersheds around the country resulted in an Institute report on ecosystem protection and restoration strategies entitled “Large-Scale Ecosystem Restoration: Lessons for Existing and Emerging Initiatives”. Guided by this report, the Institute’s Water and Watersheds program promotes a dual approach to restoration: strengthening large national programs, such as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, as well as collaboratively promoting regional strategies, directed at individual watersheds

Water Infrastructure is a critical component of Northeast and Midwest cities that connects the environment and economy in our region, both literally and figuratively.  The economy cannot thrive in the absence of reliable drinking water and wastewater treatment and distribution. From treatment plants to collection systems the evolution of Northeast-Midwest cities requires an evolution of sorts from our basic infrastructure.  Examples include expanding treatment for new pollutants or redesigning transmission systems as water users and population centers move within and around cities.  Funding programs, research, and regulations at the federal and state level influence the process and speed with which these changes are made.  There are opportunities to influence federal and state policies to better support the changing water infrastructure needs of Northeast and Midwest cities.