IISG was presented with a 2009 Education and Public Service Award from the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago in July. This award is given by UCOWR in recognition of individuals, groups or agencies that have made significant contributions to increased public awareness of water resources development, use or management.

IISG was recognized for the program’s efforts regarding natural resource issues facing the greater Chicago metropolitan region, including water supply. Despite the fact that Chicago sits on the plentiful resource of Lake Michigan, the region is facing a growing population and a water supply that is limited, both legally and practically.

Throughout the decade, IISG has supported and informed efforts to develop regional plans regarding water supply and other natural resource issues facing the region. For example, in 2001 IISG helped the Tri-State Wingspread Accord get off the ground. The accord brought together planning agencies from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin to address issues on a larger scale. Through this agreement, water supply planning can take place on a watershed or aquifer basis, which often extends beyond state lines. Since then, Michigan has joined the accord, and the group continues to make historic efforts to address future coastal resource needs.

Last year, in partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the University of Illinois Extension, IISG hired a water resource economist to oversee the economic analysis to support the development and implementation of a sustainable water use and supply plan for the Chicago region. Margaret Schneemann is examining the costs and benefits of the water supply planning process, including conservation options, and is developing an optimal water pricing schedule for the region.

“We are very proud that our contributions to water resource education have been recognized by UCOWR,” said Brian Miller, IISG director. “Addressing water quantity and quality issues in the region requires a team effort that includes partnerships with agencies and organizations. Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of working with great partners.”

UCOWR consists of over 90 member universities and organizations throughout the world. UCOWR’s goals include: facilitating water-related education at all levels; promoting meaningful research and technology transfer on contemporary and emerging water resources issues; compiling and disseminating information on water problems and solutions; and informing the public about water issues with the objective of promoting informed decisions at all levels of society. Member institutions engage in education, research, public service, international activities, and information support for policy development related to water resources.

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