Graham Sustainability Institute

Water@Michigan: Embracing the Values of Water

On Wednesday, May 2, 2018 the Graham Sustainability Institute and the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) hosted the third annual Water@Michigan forum.

The forum highlighted examples of water-related co-production. In co-production, scholars and the intended users of the work develop usable and actionable knowledge by jointly framing the knowledge gap, deciding how to tackle it, and analyzing the results.

After an inspirational kick-off talk by Dean Jonathan Overpeck, the inaugural Dean of SEAS, morning plenary presentations focused in three theme areas: from rust to blue (exploring the intersection of water and economy); water quality and inequality (examining how water quality is maintained and for whom); and citizenry and ethics (investigating the relationship among water, literacy, participation and community trust). In the afternoon, scholars and community partners interested in co-production, jointly explored project opportunities in a variety of theme-based breakout sessions.

The day wrapped up back in plenary with table conversations identifying barriers and support for co-production, a panel discussion of scholars and practitioners sharing experience in co-production, and the announcement of a seed-funding opportunity for resources to continue exploring co-production opportunities.

Practitioner/Researcher and Lightning Talk Modules

Each of three modules (topics below) provided an examples of co-production, followed by lightning talks intended to spark ideas, consider issues and opportunities related to new ideas, and ignite conversation.

From Rust to Blue

For example, how communities are revaluing water as amenity , not only resource, including economy, governance, and infrastructure.
Moderator: Kathryn Buckner, President, Council of Great Lakes Industries

  1. Joan Nassauer, U-M Environment and Sustainability and Lisa Wallick, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
    Neighborhood, Environment, and Water Collaborations for Green Infrastructure
    Presentation Slides  |  Presentation Summary & Contact Information
  2. Branko Kerkez, U-M Engineering
    Smart Stormwater Systems
    Presentation Slides  |  Presentation Summary & Contact Information
  3. Gabe Ehrlich, Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics, LSA Economics Department
    The Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics’ Water Research
    Presentation Slides  |  Presentation Summary & Contact Information
  4. Amy Jo Schulz & Briana Mezuk, School of Public Health
    From Rust to Blue: Challenges from Emerging Contaminants
    Presentation Slides Presentation Summary & Contact Information
  5. John Erb, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation

Water Quality and Inequality

For example, how is water quality maintained and for whom; who gets a seat at the decision-making table.
Moderator: Evan Pratt, Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner

  1. Chuanwu Xi, U-M Public Health & Christine Greene, NSF International
    Catalyst for Change: Healthcare Infection Transmission Systems Consortium Water Transmission Working Group
    Presentation Slides  
  2. Michele Swanson, U-M Medicine
    The Flint Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks: Questions Raised
    Presentation Slides Presentation Summary & Contact Information
  3. Nancy Love, U-M Engineering
    Aging and Under-maintained Water Infrastructure, its Impact on Water Quality, and Equity
    Presentation Slides 
  4. Mark Lindquist, U-M Environment and Sustainability-Landscape Architecture
    Co-designing Multifunctional Landscapes
    Presentation Slides Presentation Summary & Contact Information
  5. Omar Gates, U-M Great Lakes Integrates Sciences and Assessments Program
    Advancing Climate Adaptation Initiatives for Indigenous Tribes within the Great Lakes Region
    Presentation Slides 

Citizenry and Ethics

For example, exploring education, participation, literacy, and re-establishing community trust.
Moderator: Mike Shriberg, Regional Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center

  1. Andrew Herscher, U-M Architecture & Emily Kutil, We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective
    We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective
    Presentation Slides 
  2. Elizabeth Roberts, U-M Anthropology Department
    NESTSMX: Neighborhood Environments as Socio-Techno-Bio Systems
    Presentation Slides 
  3. Sara Ana Adlerstein-Gonzalez, U-M Environment and Sustainability
    Education and Community Engagement through Art
    Presentation Slides 
  4. Rolf Bouma, U-M Program in the Environment
    Re-enchanting the Religious Symbolism of Water
    Presentation Slides Presentation Summary & Contact Information
  5. Richard Hobrla, State of Michigan - Office of the Great Lakes

Break-out Sessions

Attendees joined one of eight break-out groups to have deeper discussion on aspects of the three module topics from the morning with the goal of generating actionable co-production ideas and partnerships that can take advantage of available seed funding.
Paul Seelbach, Professor of Practice, School for Environment and Sustainbility

Individual session group notes are linked below as PDFs

  1. Unequal exposure to water risks: addressing policy and enforcement related to contaminants, pathogens, flooding 
  2. Putting it all together at scale: Addressing complexities (multi-stressors, multi-jurisdictions, multi-scales) towards effective solutions From Rust to Blue
  3. Blue Economy: What’s the role of water in the regional economy?
  4. Restoration and water quality benefits: groundwater recharge, water quality and watershed protection
  5. Waterfront revitalization challenges & opportunities - proximity; sense of place & common identities Citizenship & Ethics
  6. Is water a social or economic good: Water Rights, Water Costs, Access and Affordability
  7. Creating a societal water ethic: “valuing” water, building the narrative
  8. What does ‘water citizenship’ mean and how do we get there? 

Additional Resources

Water@Michigan Steering Committee:

  • Paul Seelbach, SEAS (co-Chair)
  • Jen Read, Water Center (co-Chair)
  • Chuanwu Xi, School of Public Health
  • Gabriel Ehrlich, Economics, LSA
  • Maria Arquero De Alarcon, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Noah Webster, Institute for Social Research
  • Victoria Campbell Arvai, SEAS
  • Bradley Cardinale, SEAS
  • Glen Daigger, College of Engineering
  • Scotti Parrish, English, LSA
  • Aline Cotel, College of Engineering
  • Ravi Anupindi, Ross School of Business
  • Evan Pratt, Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner
  • Mike Shriberg, National Wildlife Federation
  • Kathryn Buckner, Council of Great Lakes Industries
  • Dieter Bouma, Water Center


Date & Time: 
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
Palmer Commons: Great Lakes Central
Registration Deadline: 
Monday, April 30, 2018 - 10:00 am