The League of Women Voters of Jo Daviess County is following up on action items identified in the recently completed Jo Daviess County Water Resource Management Plan. On October 24th and 25th, John Bilotta and Cindy Hagley (University of Minnesota Extension) were invited to the DeSoto House Hotel in Galena to conduct 2 day-long sessions to train 47 individuals to become facilitators for “The Watershed Game”.
30 of the trainees were from within Jo Daviess County and have committed to playing the game with a group in the county within one year to raise awareness and literacy about watershed issues. Stream, Lake and classroom versions of the game were purchased and are available for the facilitators to check out from the county environmental health department.
The game provides a fun way to learn about watersheds, land use impacts on water quality, and strategic collaboration to achieve water quality goals. In addition to the Jo Daviess County facilitators, 17 individuals from other parts of the Upper Mississippi River Region received training (Madison, Ottumwa, Dubuque, and LaCrosse were among the communities represented).
These individuals were part of the Upper Mississippi River Region Inter-League Organization (LWV-UMRR ILO). Affectionately referred to as the “Ummer,” the inter-league, comprised of over 60 local Leagues in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, just celebrated its 1st anniversary, having formed in October of 2015. Nutrient pollution was chosen as a focus issue for the ILO since each of the states has been challenged to reduce nitrate, nitrogen and phosphorus contributions to the Mississippi River. The Watershed Game is seen as a tool for raising awareness about these issues.
In Jo Daviess County, an inclusive process is building awareness and momentum for water protection. (Story & photo: League Of Women Voters)
In June, the Jo Daviess County Water Resource Management Planning Committee completed the final draft of its water resource management plan. The League of Women Voters of Jo Daviess County (LWV) also learned it received a national award as a result of the committee’s work.
More than 20 stakeholders from around the county, recruited and organized by the local League in collaboration with Jo Daviess County Soil and Water District, met every other month for over two years to develop a plan identifying and assessing issues related to surface water and groundwater in the county.
With science-based stewardship and evidence-based decision-making as guiding principles, the process documented consensus about the best way to manage water resources going forward.
At the 52nd national convention of the League of Women Voters held June 16-18, 2016 in Washington, D.C., the local League received the Effective Community Engagement Award for its water resource management plan project. The project was one of four finalists. League members from more than 800 local Leagues around the country voted online to award the honor.
Local issues identified during the two-year process fell into three broad categories: 1) storm water management; 2) groundwater management; and 3) water quality. Topography, soils, and geology of the county were found to create challenges in each of these areas.
The plan documents consensus on three broad goals with specific objectives and includes a multi-year action plan designed to achieve incremental, sustainable improvements to water resource management across the county.
The plan is now being presented to county township boards, city councils, resort core boards, county board and other organizations. These groups will be invited to collaborate and focus on possible actions to accomplish the goals and objectives in the multi-year action plan.