Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $27,095 Total Non-Federal Funds: $65,141
Principal Investigators: Lois Wolfson
Abstract: Problem: Water is an essential resource for all aspects of life and quality of life, and we depend on an abundance of clean, high quality water for drinking, manufacturing, agriculture, recreation, tourism, and ecosystem health. In Michigan, we are fortunate to be a water-rich state with over 11,000 inland lakes greater than 5 acres in size, 36,000 miles of river and streams, 5.5 million acres of wetlands, a vast groundwater supply, and 20% of the world’s freshwater surface supply within the surrounding Great Lakes. With this remarkable benefit comes a responsibility to wisely protect and manage this critical resource. A detailed understanding of impacts they may be incurred from land use activities, erosion, nonpoint source pollution, invasive species, climate change and how decisions and individual actions might affect water resources is essential for long term sustainability of this significant resource. Methods: Effective dissemination of information, data, and tools must be timely, accurate, unbiased and research based. These methods should offer alternative solutions to problems being assessed and delivered in ways that help people make more informed and better decisions concerning water resources. For over 35 years, the Institute of Water Research has responded to the needs of Michigan citizens and has been proactive in the development of programs. Many modes of information exchange have been used to enhance this program, reach new audiences and develop new programs through a co-creative process with multiple user groups. Based on past formats and their evaluation, the mechanisms for this project will include: (1) developing, organizing and co-coordinating technical and non-technical conferences that address current and emerging water related issues; (2) developing training sessions, workshops and webinars to help users understand aquatic ecosystems and water quality issues; (3) creating and delivering lectures, demonstrations and power point presentations to varied audiences; (4) developing web-based interactive programs that utilize new technologies to assess and address potential problems and inform users to help with decision making and build capacity; (5) compiling, interpreting, and distributing water related information; (6) partnering with MSU Extension field and campus educators to coordinate and support programs at the local level and 7) interacting and coordinating efforts with researchers, agency personnel, other states, and professionals on multidisciplinary issues related to water issues. Objectives: The objectives of this program are to: 1) develop and present educational programs designed to increase the public's awareness, knowledge and appreciation of the water quality and quantity problems in Michigan and present alternatives in practices or behavior that lead to improvement of the resource; 2) incorporate new developments and issues relating to water into existing and new programs; 3) provide hands-on tools and models to address environmental and economic complexities required to solve real world water related problems; 4) address high priority and emerging issues; 5) evaluate the projects disseminated and incorporate lessons learned into new programs; 6) develop programs in a variety of formats that suit the needs of individuals and user groups; and 7) coordinate and develop multidisciplinary projects in a co-creative process with both clientele and associates, including extension educators, faculty on campus, other agencies, environmental organizations, and other Universities in order to make water-related information readily usable and available to a vast clientele across the state.