Non-point sources of pollution are considered the most common cause of impairment to water quality in the U.S. (USEPA, 2016). In the region served by the North Central Region Water Network, nutrient and sediment runoff from agricultural land is associated with lake eutrophication, including harmful algal blooms in the western Lake Erie basin, and is considered a significant contributor to the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Collaborative watershed management has been identified as a key solution in addressing non-point pollution of surface waters in the United States.
The purpose of this project was to strengthen the capacity of the land-grant universities in the North Central Region to provide educational programs and resources in the social dimensions of watershed management for watershed leaders. Specifically, the project aimed to:
Addressing the Challenge
This project sought to assess the need for educational programs and materials related to civic engagement and collaboration for watershed management through a three-step process.
These themes lead to the creation of a catalog of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and aspirations (KASA) required by watershed leaders to effectively lead civic engagement and collaborative processes. The team also identified educational programs offered throughout the North Central Region that targeted watershed and lake management leaders. In total, eleven programs were identified and a survey was distributed to program contacts to assess which civic engagement and collaboration topics were addressed in each program.
Analysis of the survey data allowed researchers to identify examples of training programs that addressed each of the civic engagement and collaborative topics identified through the developed framework. A sub-team was created to collect additional information from program contacts and allow programs to share resources addressing each identified KASA. Together, these resources allow program leaders to rely on research-based best practices and leverage existing materials to ensure their programs equip watershed leaders to effectively lead civic engagement and collaborative processes moving forward.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2016. What is nonpoint source? Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/polluted-runoff-nonpoint-source-pollution/whatnonpoint-source
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2005. Draft handbook for developing watershed plans to restore and protect our waters. Office of Water. Washington, D.C. EPA 841-B-05-005.
North Central Region Water Network