The Resource Room is a compilation of topics, ideas, questions and activities that Fund staff is encountering. Please explore the posts (either in the categories above or by most recent post to the right) and contact us with your questions, comments, additions, submissions, and challenges.
The IPM Institute is hosting an event on December 12, 2013 in Toledo, OH to demonstrate how ag retailers are taking an leadership role in helping farmers adopt best practices to improve both farmer profitability and water quality.
Read more about the GLPF project, led by the IPM Institute, that has already engaged more than 16,000 acres of cropland to test management practices to reduce phosphorus.
Read more about the meeting and check out the agenda with information about the presenters.
We hope you will attend! Please visit the IPM Institute’s events page to register.
In its second annual U.S. water industry report, Black & Veatch take a look at an industry "...more focused on informed spending to stretch limited budgets and extend the life of current assets." Please visit the Black & Veatch website to download the report.
At the Fund, the question "What will water utilities look like in 20 years?" comes up often. This report continues the conversation about the formidable problems that water utility managers are facing and offers up best practices currently being implemented to meet the challenges of the industry. A particular focus is placed on asset management programs which water industry leaders estimate will be in place or in progress in more than 90% of utility districts by 2016.
The Fund is interested in new innovations that will shape how water utilities will operate in the future and we welcome your ideas and input. Please drop us a note to start a conversation or add a comment below.
Thank you to the folks at Budget Dumpster for featuring the Great Lakes Protection Fund in their blog series Profiles in Environmentalism. We appreciate our basin community and those who help spread the word about the wide array of good work being done to protect our natural resources.
Great Lakes Governors Leadership Summit. From left: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. (AP Photo/John Flesher)
On June 1, 2013, the Great Lakes Governors and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec gathered at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for the Council of Great Lakes Governors 2013 Leadership Summit. The summit's theme was Strengthening Our Economy and Protecting Our Great Lakes.
You can find a recap of agenda and resolutions here. A webcast archive of the procedings can be found here.
On January 15, 2013, leading experts from across the country will participate in a live discussion on the solutions to the threats posed by invasive species in the Great Lakes. These panel discussions will be broadcast live on television in Southeast Michigan and available live on the web from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon Eastern Time.
Visit GreatLakesNow.org for more information. You can watch the webcast live using the viewer below.
I hope that many of you are considering submitting a preproposal in response to our recent RFP. We want to finance a series of high-impact projects to show how new applications, systems, or other prototype technologies change our day-to-day choices to improve (or at least not degrade) the health of the world’s largest source of freshwater. Have a look at the RFP page for project ideas and FAQs.
One of the consistent pieces of advice we received in consulting experts while drafting this RFP was that funded projects need to focus on technology-enabled strategies, not simply technology. In other words, technology can help us do fundamentally new things, and the projects should focus on the new actions, with the gizmos, gadgets, and software used as a catalyst.
I’d encourage any of you who are considering pulling a team together to read about the Israeli water firm Netafim. They created world-class irrigation technology. They also couldn’t make a business of selling it. At least they couldn’t until they created a new business model that moved away from selling equipment and focused more on improving how water was used. This was exemplified when they switched their mission from "making the best drip irrigation equipment for customers" to "helping the world grow more with less", an objective far more aligned with the objectives of its customers, the farmers. This allowed for a dramatic growth in revenues and an increase in its market share, all while making a life-changing impact on some of the most impoverished of the world's citizens.
RFP Possible Project Ideas
This list was generated in our discussions with experts about what might be possible. This list is not a specification sheet, a desired product list, or in any way meant to constrain what applicants should consider proposing.
RFP Additional Resources
As we have researched information technology and environmental outcomes, we have learned of many related projects, complementary initiatives, and allied activities. Examples and links are solely provided as inspiration as many are outside the scope of what the Fund would support.
We hope to provide answers to many of your questions about our RFP here. We encourage you to contact us with any questions specific to the content of your work.
Detroit Public Television and WVIZ/PBS ideastream will host coverage of Great Lakes Week 2012. Coverage is available at GreatLakesNow.org and at www.ideastream.org. Coverage will also be available on local public televisions stations (check your local listings).
Engineering firm Black and Veatch has just released its first-ever survey of the US water utility industry. That report is available here. The survey summarizes information from a "broad cross section of the industry and country." Not surprisingly, respondents identified failing infrastructure, the need for capital (and accompanying rate increases) as key concerns. Improved asset and energy management were identified as important opportunities. Last, and consistent with the findings of our grantee teams and advisors, survey respondents noted that regulatory actions drive investments, not financial incentives.
The Fund continues to look for teams that wish to innovate in these spaces. For more see this workshop report.
Do you have a powerful innovation- financial, operational or behavioral- that you want to test?
In December 2009 the Great Lakes Protection Fund financed a series of design phase projects to create new strategies that test how water conservation practices can best benefit the physical, biological and chemical integrity of the Great Lakes. This was an unusual initiative for the Fund—supporting a series of design phase projects was not something we had tried before—and was strongly driven by the tough economic climate of the time. Drawing on a modest budget, GLPF funded first phases of what was anticipated to be multi-phased efforts. The Fund expected to support the implementation/pilot phases for some teams in future grant-making.
Two years later, these planning projects are complete, and some teams are now testing their ideas in Fund-supported pilots. Through their work the teams found that water conservation is different in the Great Lakes, and to be effective must be more broadly defined to include municipal supply, stormwater and wastewater, and engage a different set of stakeholders than traditional water conservation strategies. Specifically:
Conservation strategies designed for dry regions, often with a single-minded focus on “gallons of water used” do not work well in a water rich region. The impacts of water use can only be considered at a local level. The teams found that using typical water conservation strategies would provide value only in certain limited locations.
Water use is a minor portion of the Great Lakes hydrologic cycle. The full hydrologic cycle, particularly stormwater runoff, needs to be considered and managed. The teams found that restoring natural drainage patterns present far greater ecological gains than decreasing use.
The teams developed a series of products—analytic tools, models, maps, policy papers, surveys, reports and more—that have proven to be immediately useful to a variety of Great Lakes stakeholders. They can be found on the individual project pages by clicking on the project headings below.
The Fund held a workshop that brought the teams together to discuss what they discovered in their research and design phase efforts. To read a summary report of that workshop, click here.
Value of the Great Lakes Water Initiative explored the social, political and economic factors that drive the pricing of public water in the Great Lakes region, and examined how pricing could be employed as a conservation practice. The team identified vulnerable watersheds in the basin; performed a rate survey of basin water utilities; held a series of water rate workshops across the basin; and created a pricing primer.
Integrating Energy and Water Resources Decision-Making looked at integrating ecological factors into the planning and siting of power production facilities to minimize impacts on aquatic habitats and resources. The team identified watersheds vulnerable to impacts from power generation; developed an interactive energy-water nexus map of the Great Lakes; created a model to predict future water resource impacts from changes in the energy mix; and completed a policy analysis on energy markets, energy planning, and facility siting and operations.
Great Lakes Watershed Ecological Sustainability Strategy evaluated how water movement patterns have been disrupted in Great Lakes watersheds, and explored where to pilot integrated restoration efforts. The team characterized all 120 HUC-8 watersheds in the basin based on physical condition, causes of impairment, and readiness to act, and used these criteria to identify a series of candidate watersheds best suited for future work. The team’s primary objective was to test (in a later phase) a science-based strategy for watershed restoration based on an innovative model that would identify the placement and extent of restoration actions needed to improve the physical, chemical and biological condition of the watershed.
Water Use Impacts and Conservation Benefits examined the broader environmental impacts resulting from water use and conservation, and developed tools for quantifying the benefits of water conservation. The team developed a protocol for certifying the carbon value of water conservation; created a carbon calculator for water and wastewater utilities water conservation activities; and developed a tool that enables utilities to prioritize water conservation actions based on the water source, discharge receiving waters, and development history.
Building on the Johnson Foundation’s Charting New Waters convening, and by analyzing work already underway by those who have a head start, this report charts the pathways of cooperation that will be required to forge innovative thinking about our freshwater systems.
We are pleased that the report identifies several Fund-supported teams as leaders in the financing space. These teams are gaining traction and we hope to expand our impact with future investments. We have been working to promote these teams' work—visiting with environmental groups, trade associations, and charitable foundations—to build shared-expertise on how we can pay for our infrastructure gap, how we can build the next generation business models to deliver what we need, and how we can work together on an issue that is nationally—if not globally—critical, even though the answers must work locally. If you haven’t seen it yet, I strongly recommend the Johnson Foundation report on financing sustainable water infrastructure.
Along those lines, the Fund hosted a recent workshop that explored how the next generation of water utilities can lead in ecosystem management innovations. You can read a summary report here. Some of the insights from this workshop have already been incorporated in our programming.
The Fund has invested in three teams to test some of the ideas discussed at the workshop. One team is exploring how distributed technologies can be bundled, managed and financed. While this work is at an early stage, it could well be a very positive disruptive force in the utility space. Another project is looking at new ways to target, finance and deliver conservation impacts in the rural environment. This work too, might catalyze new business models in the region’s food and fiber belt. A third effort is looking at how to facilitate water conservation in industrial customers of water utilities (including creative efforts in stormwater management), to drive positive ecological change, and navigate the many challenges (rates, disappearing user savings, and roi requirements).
We are looking for efforts to fill out this portfolio of work.
We would be interested in projects that test technologies, novel insights, new products, new revenue or financing models, or new combinations of services that have the promise of catalyzing change in the institutions that currently “manage” some aspect of freshwater.
Ideally, each would be a fairly substantial effort, work in a number of strategically important places, and be true collaborations (rather than large teams of a prime contractor with many subcontractors).
Here's how you can help. In the comments below, or via e-mail, give us your advice on any of the following:
What ideas should we test?
Who is ready to lead such a project?
Where should we signal our interest in supporting such work?
What if anything has changed on the landscape that should alter our course?
(If you are reading this from our main Resource Room page, you will need to click here to go to the blog page to comment.)
I participated in a recent three-day workshop that piloted a systems-thinking approach for funders. We explored the issue of harmful algae blooms in the Great Lakes with the help of experts who are trying to solve the problem, and systems-thinking facilitators who helped us structure the problem and explore possible solutions.
I really appreciate the generosity of the experts who volunteered their time, energy and knowledge; the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread who provided the location; and the funders who provided financial support.
It was a chance to learn more about a serious problem facing the Lakes, explore a powerful technique to help a group of funders to more effectively intervene, and to catch up with friends and colleagues that I have not stayed as close to as I should.
A promise made at the outset—that the participants would leave exhausted—was easily kept.
A few important things jumped out at me.
“Systems thinking” is a powerful tool, if you put in the time it takes.
I came to this session having used a number of management strategies: total quality management, statistical process control, classic operations theory, and applied game theory. All of these approaches help one better understand how complex processes work and what might be done to have those things work better.
The difference in, and the key value added by, systems thinking is the emphasis on feedback loops—not only to understand how Event A causes Event B, but also to explore how Event B causes (or prevents) Event A. Exploring feedback allows one to see what makes complex systems, well, complex. Mapping these relationships can allow one to identify where “interventions” might be most beneficial.
It seems to me that the dominant creative tension in using this approach is the temptation to focus too much energy on documenting system complexity (what it is today) at the cost of exploring system dynamics (how the structure has changed, will change and can change over time). To get to this point requires time, engagement with the right people, and trust (which also takes more time). In our introduction, we had only limited time and limited sets of expertise. We never really got to the point of exploring how the system will evolve, much less how it should evolve. My sense is that the value for funders, or at least the Fund, is in better understanding how to shape the dynamics of the systems we work on, rather than in understanding how one could optimize how the current system operates.
We’ll need to keep working at using this tool. Having said that, the exploration we did was valuable.
There are new, sometimes toxic, nuisance algae conditions in at least four of the five Great Lakes.
While this is happening in most of the Great Lakes, and perhaps most evident in Lake Erie’s western basin, it is part of a continental, if not global, increase in algae-related problems. Some of the most serious by-products of these nuisance algae conditions are the harmful algae blooms that release toxins like microcystin (which can cause illness, or worse) and the increased growth of other algae that contribute to outbreaks of diseases like avian botulism.
Roughly simultaneous changes in physical, chemical and biological inputs have given rise to these conditions.
The basin’s physical hydrology is changing due to storms that are more frequent and rainfall that is more intense. These natural changes have led to physical changes on the land to help us deal with increased precipitation—the installation of more drain tile per acre of farmland to keep up.
The chemistry has also changed significantly, which is evident by the historic high levels of soluble reactive phosphorous (SRP) that is entering the tributaries and that is available to algae in the Lakes. (As a recovering environmental chemist, this is shocking to me.)
Biologically, the addition of zebra and quagga mussels has altered how phosphorous is used in the system, effectively making the Lakes more sensitive to phosphorous inputs.
As one participant put it, “Everything has changed, and it’s all going in the wrong direction.”
Some of these input changes are unintended consequences of past “successes.”
Successful advances in sediment control and phosphorous runoff—such as no-till or conservation tillage systems—to keep soil on the farm fields have played a part in the chemical changes we are now seeing in the Great Lakes. It seems that phosphorous levels have accumulated in the soils and are now providing more of a more potent kind of phosphate to the Lakes—soluble reactive phosphorus (known as SRP.) In systems terms, this is a classic “fix that fails.”
The current outbreaks are also—at least in part—a result of the game of “ecological Russian roulette” we’ve been playing with the system. The engineering marvels, and promises of economic opportunity, that connect the Lakes to saltwater ports around the globe (and other freshwater systems) have led to a series of biological invasions that periodically, and fundamentally, reconfigure the biological structure of the Lakes’ ecosystem. The non-native mussels that have taken up residence in the Lakes have made the system more sensitive to the altered phosphorous inputs.
Understanding how these “fixes” may have failed in important ways, and how the institutions that support those approaches can evolve in response, are very important areas to explore.
Successful interventions will be different than those of the past.
Solving these problems requires intervening in the physical, chemical and biological dimensions simultaneously and perhaps on a greater scale than previously attempted.
This means we will need “whole farm” approaches that make lake-friendly farming attractive, profitable and secure. It also means thinking more expansively about on-farm practices by taking a fresh look at conservation and drainage practices, and by looking at larger portions of the agriculture value-chain: working with input providers, crop advisors, co-ops and buyers to create the conditions for a smaller SRP footprint. The era of relying exclusively on specific, government-subsidized, “best” management practices may soon be over.
It also means stopping the introduction of invasive species. We need to be sure that the canals linking the system to global trade, and the vessels that use them, are not exacerbating the problem. This means creating not only the methods to do things differently, but also building the courage and will to try them. We are making progress here, but the specter of invaders like the Golden Mussel, brought to the region’s attention by Fund grantees, should keep us focused on keeping all invaders out.
If you are a local, state or federal conservation professional, you may find this interesting.
In this recent article, the Great Lakes Echo takes a look at absentee landowners in the Great Lakes and the difficulties natural resource agencies face in communicating with them about conservation issues. Accounting for approximately half of all agricultural landowners in the Great Lakes states, those who lease out their agricultural land have largely gone unaccounted for in state and federal conservation programs.
This article reports on observations from a Fund-supported project that tested different communication techniques for reaching absentee agricultural landowners in parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and New York. The project’s goal was to improve water quality and reduce the negative impacts of agriculture on streams and rivers by finding effective methods for reaching and educating absentee landowners on conservation practices.
The team found that conservation was a priority for this group, yet many absentee landowners have little or no experience in working with conservation programs or practices.
Through outreach and education, the team worked with absentee owners, their operators, and conservation officials to install over 480 acres of vegetative filter strips. This reduced the input of 696 tons of sediment, 1,152 pounds of phosphorus and 2,280 pounds of nitrogen into the Great Lakes in the first year.
The team not only kept nutrients and sediment out of the Great Lakes, but they deployed the tools that will allow this impact to become greater each year. One such design—a toolkit for natural resource professionals that provides advice and recommendations on how to promote conservation topics to absentee landowners—can be downloaded via the Center for Absentee Landowners’ website.
Take a moment to read more on this interesting project here.
A new report, Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure, is now available on the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread's website. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in what our water service sector will become, how it might be supported financially, and what has to change between now and then. The webinar introducing the report was recorded and can be accessed here.
This report summarizes a series of web-facilitated and in-person meetings focused on how to finance the new needs of water management entities (drinking water, storm water, waste water, and possibly other water management utilities). I was honored to be asked to participate in these sessions and did my best to share the expert advice the Fund has received on these issues and the lessons that Fund-supported teams have learned by exploring financial and market-based tools in this sector. This work has been substantial and the learning impressive. Some of these approaches have blossomed. Others have not worked. Some are still a work in progress.
If you want to learn more, a few resources follow.
The Fund has sponsored a number of teams exploring how to identify, package, and exchange water-based ecological services like nutrient removal, sediment control and flow restoration. Case studies produced by a team led by the Environmental Trading Network identify how to structure effective water quality trading programs, how to creatively use assets of state revolving fund programs and how to think strategically about storm water projects. Their work is nicely summarized here.
Alternate Financing Approaches
Two Fund-supported teams evaluated how the cost of financing and/or the cost of subsidies for water infrastructure can be lowered. These teams identified that a number of mechanisms could lower financing costs.
At the federal level, tax credit bonds can substantially lower the costs of water infrastructure to the federal government, as well as lower the costs to those who take on this debt. More on this approach can be found here and in this report (pdf format).
At the local level, use of tax increment financing might allow new sources of capital to flow to restoration activities. More on this approach is available here (pdf format).
Interestingly, neither project could attract partners to test how these approaches would work on the ground. The teams felt (oversimplifying here), that slightly less expensive financing did not overcome the barriers to action. Financing appears to be necessary, but not by itself sufficient, for the sector to become more sustainable.
New Transaction Models
The Fund has recently supported two teams that are designing and testing new ways to reduce the impacts of run-off in urban and rural settings.
One team is exploring how to pay for the performance of practices of agricultural producers. Many farms undertake conservation practices like buffer strips and grassed drainage swales to keep nutrients and soils on the land, rather than in the water. This team looks to design payments for what those practices do in the way of improved stream health, so that producers receive higher payments for better performance. More is available here.
Another team is designing a series of investment grade, coordinated, integrated, distributed storm water management practices in three Great Lakes urban centers. They want to develop a series of site-based rainwater harvesting and management systems, bundle their performance, find private financing, and negotiate sales agreements to public or private entities that will benefit from storm water management. They expect to create a template for such transactions, and an electronic platform to reduce the transaction costs of creating and selling these services. More is available here.
We Want to Hear from You
The Fund is very interested in working with teams to help shape the future of water management in and around the Great Lakes. If you have a new idea you want to try, drop us a note, and let's start a conversation!
On Monday, November 28, Ruth Matthews, Director of the Water Footprint Network, will present "The Future of Water Footprinting: New Global Data." She will share new research by the Network and share case studies of how to use footprinting to drive action that reduces the impact of water use. For those who have not seen it, I recommend having a look at the Network's most recent analysis of global water scarcity, which incorporates the timing of water use as a driver of impact. Even water rich regions experience scarcity when timing is considered. That report is available here. (~7MB pdf) I suspect Ruth will cover this analysis in her session.
Two days later, on Wednesday, November 30, a panel including Marcus Norton (CDP), Will Sarni (Deloitte) and Michael Glade (Molson Coors) will explore the results of the Carbon Disclosure Project's (CDP's) water use disclosure effort.
I spent yesterday at the Milwaukee Water Council's fifth Water Summit. The session was focused in three tracks: Urban Agriculture, Urban Water and the relationship between Water and Energy. By my rough estimate, the event drew nearly two hundred individuals from companies in the "water space" (the Council reports that there are some 120 of these firms in the Milwaukee area), research universities, government agencies, and interest/trade groups. The audience was energetic, engaged and enthusiastic. I'm glad that I was able to be there. I can not cover all of what happened here, but the three items below offer a taste of what the Council is up to. I encourage you to explore each of them. To learn more about the Council, you can listen to coverage of this event on Chicago Public Radio's Front and Center program (focusing on Great Lakes issues) here: http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-20/milwaukee-taps-great-lakes-economic-potential-water-summit-92215# or visit them directly here: http://www.thewatercouncil.com/
The morning keynote speaker, Phil Enquist, a partner at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, gave a version of his talk on a 100 year vision for the Great Lakes. If you haven't had a chance to see it, a version from last year is available over on You Tube:
Another very interesting idea is the "Water Entrepreneurship Workshop" that helped budding entreprenuer-teams to articulate business cases for water-related innovations. UW Whitewater's Business School provided templates and experts from XPV Capital, Imagine H20, USEPA and Veolia Water provided assistance, inspiration and advice. The final "pitches" from five teams can be found here: http://www.thewaterworkshop.com/presentations.html I'm not sure where these business ideas will go, but the workshop approach is very intriguing.
Last, but not least, the lunchtime keynote speakers provided some useful insights into the value of water. David Zetland (http://aguanomics.com) and Jamie Workman discussed how a dose of economic thinking can help both water managers and the rest of us better manage our water. David seemed to suggest that a transition from water "rates" to "prices" is an important means to the end of better managed water, and Jamie offered a unique "earn and trade" (http://ecocloud-sv.com/page/water-ownership-and-aquajust) approach to water management. Keep an eye out for both of these fellows! It was a very interesting and engaging session.
(Design by Sana Sandler / Courtesy Argonne National Laboratory.)
Our third webinar highlighted two projects from Carol Miller and Jeff Edstrom who are exploring the growing connection between water and energy.
Carol Miller is leading a team to develop software that will allow municipal water systems to reduce air pollution and other water use impacts. Water system operators must provide enough water to maintain pressure in the face of daily fluctuating demands. The team is designing algorithms that automatically direct pumps to operate at times when the electric power grid is supplied by the cleanest available sources of energy, avoiding times when it is supplied by more polluting sources. The team is developing and testing this technology in southeast Michigan. The intent is to provide the products to all basin utilities free of charge.
Jeff Edstrom is leading a team that is shifting the “less water use is better, more water use is worse” sentiment that drives many water conservation efforts, exploring how water conservation can be used more practically in restoration plans. The team is showing how reducing the impacts of withdrawals, discharges, and corresponding chemical usage and power usage can alleviate environmental problems more effectively than simply calling for reduced use. The team is creating assessment tools, including a tool to estimate carbon reductions associated with water conservation, to identify water conservation benefits that allow practitioners to focus on actions that produce better ecological results.
Click here to view the webinar. Due to technical difficulties Carol Miller’s presentation was re-recorded and is available here.
I have just returned from a three-day expert workshop on Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure sponsored by the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread. This is one of the best and most useful gatherings I've attended on the future of water, wastewater, drainage and other "utilities." Financiers, C-suite executives, entrepreneurs, ngo leaders, and regulators explored what the "utility" of the future would do, how it might be capitalized, and how ongoing services would be paid for. This discussion is closely allied with two workshops that the Fund recently hosted exploring similar issues.
Reports on all three will be forthcoming shortly-- watch this space for updates.
Based on the energy and enthusiasm in these sessions, it seems like the utility space is not only ripe for innovation, but that we are already in the early days of transforming what we now call water "utilities." A few common themes: distributed technologies (think green infrastructure, rainwater harvesting, and agricultural BMPs) are disrupting the natural monopoly of utilities-- opening up new ownership structures and access to different capital sources; revenues, currently from rates (based on cost recovery) can move toward prices (based on creating shared value)--think about on-bill financing of efficiency technologies, point-of-use services (like carbonation or filtration), and buying a share of equity in the utility; integration and consolidation makes financial and performance sense--there is one hydrologic cycle, but our services are fragmented, myopically optimized, and often operate at cross purposes; and last, change is happening-- Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Cleveland are fundamentally rethinking how they deliver services. Some of these things will work, other won't, but there is much learning underway. What is exciting is the chance to embed positive ecological change in the center of whatever water "utilities" become.
For another attendee's take on the Wingspread meeting, read Peter Malik's post here. Thanks to the Johnson Foundation, American Rivers and CERES for planning this event.
We welcome ideas for projects that try a specific action which will catalyze the changes underway in this industry. Have one of those ideas? Let's start a conversation.
An example of resource consumption placed in a socially comparative context. (courtesy Oberlin College)
This second webinar in our series showcased projects from John Petersen and Jon Bartholic, who are using technology, including innovative web-based systems, to change behavior and motivate individuals to be better environmental stewards. With their teams they are testing how information technology can drive Great Lakes restoration.
Click here to view the webinar from January 26, 2011.
Jon Bartholic is leading a team that is developing ways to use social media and mapping technology to drive individuals and neighborhoods to take conservation actions that matter for the Great Lakes. By encouraging friendly competition among neighbors, NECO accelerates installations of rain barrels, rain gardens, porous pavement, and many other green practices that add up to significant improvements in not just local, but larger Great Lakes watersheds.
How do people change their water and electricity consumption when they see the impacts of their use in real time? What makes them use less? How can peer pressure, impact information and friendly competition change behavior? How can that information be systematically collected, analyzed and provided to the user at the time of resource use? A team led by John Petersen is exploring what kind of feedback mechanisms lead to behavior change and reduce environmental impacts.
An aerial schematic of the Great Ships Initiative land-based, ballast treatment system testing facility. (courtesy Northeast-Midwest Institute)
We kicked off our first webinar series with two presentations from leading experts on invasive species. David Lodge and Allegra Cangelosi discussed how new genetic tools can be used to better protect the Great Lakes region against invasive species. These tools have been employed in high-profile situations and are shaping decision-making in the region.
Click here to view the webinar from December 15, 2010.
David Lodge is professor of biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame. He is a preeminent authority of invasive species biology. With a grant from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, Lodge and his team are investigating global shipping patterns and developing new genetic probes that can be used to detect invasive species from high risk ports.
(See our Resource Room post with a video on invasive species in the Great Lakes with an interview with David Lodge (from the American Museum of Natural History).
Allegra Cangelosi is President of the Northeast-Midwest Institute. In addition to many other roles, Ms. Cangelosi was Principal Investigator of the Great Ships Initiative, a collaboration whose objective is to end the problem of ship-mediated invasive species in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System. Ms. Cangelosi has helped pioneer the area of ballast treatment technology development and testing. With funding from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, Ms. Cangelosi is leading a team to develop new genetic tools to detect microorganisms that threaten the health and resilience of the Great Lakes.
Jason Scorse is trying to get those who care about the environment to become economically literate. He's just released a new book: What Environmentalists Need to Know About Economics. Have a look at his recent talk, that covers the basics.
David Lodge’s Fund-supported work in mapping global shipping connections was highlighted by the American Museum of Natural History as part of the documentary series Science Bulletins: Current research about the natural world. This video, which includes an interview with Lodge as well as the innovative visualizations he created to explain his research, is also available on the Museum’s website.
David Lodge is professor of biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame. He is a preeminent authority of invasive species biology. With a grant from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, Lodge and his team are investigating global shipping patterns and developing new genetic probes that can be used to detect invasive species from high risk ports.
The Great Lakes Protection Fund is a private, nonprofit corporation formed in 1989 by the Governors of the Great Lakes states. It is a permanent environmental endowment that supports collaborative actions to improve the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
To date, the Fund has made 253 grants and program related investments representing more than $68.7 million to support the creative work of collaborative teams that test new ideas, take risks, and share what they learn.