Groundwater Governance in the Great Lakes Region: A Comparative Study with Engagement

Freshwater will lead a one-year project “Groundwater Governance in the Great Lakes Region: A Comparative Study with Engagement” funded by Chicago-based Joyce Foundation

A team of researchers and facilitators from Freshwater, the University of Minnesota Humphrey School, and Water365, a Milwaukee-based firm, was selected from eight teams that submitted proposals to compare approaches to regulating and protecting groundwater in the Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and tribal governments in that geography.

We expect groundwater knowledge and governance capacity to vary across this geographic area with: dependence on the resource for drinking water, industry or irrigation and how this dependence factors into the economy of an area; recognition of the ecosystem services of groundwater, and the more difficult to quantify cultural or spiritual value placed on water. A robust comparison will require a carefully constructed series of nested questions that will lead researchers deeper into the more fully evolved structures of some states or tribes, while identifying barriers and needs in others.

A key component of our proposal was our plan to identify participants in each jurisdiction early and keep them apprised of progress often. In addition to official governing structures, we want to understand the soft power structure, as well as the conventions and norms held by both public and non-public actors that drive them to act or place value on groundwater. The novel approach to engagement builds on Freshwater’s existing skills in this area and may have been what set our proposal apart from the others.

One of the primary outcomes will be the relationships that are built with those we identify. This is a goal both for The Joyce Foundation who see this as a start for this new program area for them and Freshwater as we begin to expand our work into the Great Lakes region.

Our team members include:

  • John Linc Stine is the Executive Director of Freshwater. He joined Freshwater in March 2019. He has a long career in public service, protecting the natural resources of Minnesota and the health of its citizens. Most recently he served as Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and also worked for 25 years for the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
  • Dr. Carrie Jennings is the Research and Policy Director at Freshwater, a licensed professional geologist with expertise in both geology and hydrogeology.
  • Dr. Bonnie Keeler is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where she is affiliated with the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, the Institute on the Environment, and the Natural Capital Project. Dr. Keeler works at the intersection of sustainability, science, and environmental economics, with particular expertise in water management and policy.
  • Mary Manydeeds is a hydrologist and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  She has had a long career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and has experience working with numerous tribes across the nation.  She is currently the BIA Midwest Region’s Water Resources and Dam Safety Branch Chief.
  • Jen Kader is Freshwater’s Senior Program Manager. She has eleven years of experience engaging public and private stakeholders in environmental resources work and has a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning with a concentration in Climate Change Planning.
  • Eileen Kirby, is a research fellow at Freshwater. She is a 2019 graduate of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs where she earned her Masters of Science in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy. Over the last few years through her employment at the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center, she has worked on multiple research projects including the Future of Minnesota Drinking Water and Aquifer Storage and Recovery.
  • Ryan Noe is a senior scientist in the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy area of the Humphrey School. He manages projects on water and land use, with a particular focus on co-developing actionable research with state agencies, conservation organizations, and policymakers in Minnesota. He also frequently works with the Natural Capital Project, where he contributes to the development of tools and methods to understand the biophysical, economic, and social consequences of changing land uses.
  • Linda Reid, JD is the owner of Water365, LLC. Linda has effectively merged her lifelong love of Lake Michigan with her professional life as the owner of Water365, LLC, where she works with individuals and organizations to support freshwater sustainability and resilience efforts through capacity development, technical consulting, and coaching.
  • Jocelyn Leung is Freshwater’s Participatory Engagement Coordinator. She is a trained public health professional who has worked with a variety of different community organizations in the past three years and on policies from a health equity lens. As a trained facilitator and practiced qualitative researcher and interviewer, Jocelyn focuses on growing her facilitation experience at Freshwater and learning how to better support community stakeholders and government partners in finding new solutions.
  • Terin Mayer is a PhD Candidate at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs where he specializes in the economics, politics, and governance of land and water resources, with a particular interest in climate resilience. His research focuses on how networks of institutions shape who benefits from and makes decisions about the freshwater resources of the upper Midwest.

We will also rely on the capable assistance of Lila Franklin, Freshwater intern and current Humphrey School MS student and former Ohio EPA director Craig Butler, whom the Joyce Foundation is making available to us to ensure that our Ohio and Indiana connections are strong.

The team will begin its work on March 1, 2021.

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