State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2007MN204B
Title: The Role of Local Stakeholders in Water Resource Management: Characterization and Diffusion of Minnesota Lake Improvement Districts
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 6/01/2007
End Date: 5/30/2009
Congressional District: 4
Focus Categories: Law, Institutions, and Policy, Water Quality, Management and Planning
Keywords: Lake Improvement Districts, stakeholder engagement, policy, diffusion
Principal Investigator: Becker, Dennis R (University of Minnesota)
Federal Funds: $ 33,145
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 59,987
Abstract: According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, as of 2006 there were 1,013 lakes listed as impaired waters, up from 920 in 2004. A large number are impacted by human development, recreation, and pollution leading to unsafe conditions for swimming or fishing, excessive algal blooms, and high levels of mercury transferred throughout the food chain. Despite progress since passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, more MN lakes are contaminated than at any time in history. Because they are an integral part of community economies and the lifestyle of MN citizens, alternative management solutions are required that capitalize on existing planning efforts and initiatives. The development of policy tools to enable and facilitate management actions at the local level is paramount. The research seeks to assess the effectiveness of existing MN programs that empower citizens to affect water quality solutions in the places they live. In particular, the research will assess use and diffusion of Lake Improvement Districts (LID), which are local units of government organized to enhance water quality by securing grants and taxing landowners to support mitigation activities within a lake district. Diffusion of the LID program has been slow in MN. Only 24 have been created since 1976, compared to more than 200 in Wisconsin. The research will characterize existing LIDs including funds secured, staff resources, partnerships formed, and accomplishments relative to state priorities. We will identify barriers to diffusion and effective utilization of similar forms of stakeholder engagement to affect water quality. Finally, we will explore the role of stakeholder engagement in resource management activities focusing on how state programs can better facilitate on-the-ground accomplishments. Recommendations for incorporating stakeholder initiatives into statewide management activities and policy development will be provided. The cumulative impact of such could dramatically decrease the number of impaired waters in Minnesota.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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