Home / Blogs / 50 Stories: Inspiring Local Officials To Take On Water Quality Challenges
July 8, 2021
The Local Government Advisory Committee consists of local elected officials from across the Watershed who have been appointed by their respective Governors or Mayor (in the case of the District of Columbia). This blog focuses on the Alliance’s Wandering Waterways Project Series which aims to connect, immerse, and inspire local officials as they work to find solutions to water quality challenges across the Chesapeake Bay region.
Attendees of the Wandering Virginia’s Waterways Bus Tour, October 2019
It is no secret that the rivers and streams that feed into the Chesapeake Bay are a meaningful asset to each of us, and our local decision-makers are tasked with ensuring the natural vitality of these local waterways. Assessing their communities’ clean water challenges and opportunities, elected officials often must consider cost-effectiveness, sustainable commercial and recreational usage, social concerns, a range of economic and safety impacts, and more.
With a goal of equipping local decision-makers with an enhanced insight to understand and identify solutions to water quality challenges, the Alliance launched its Wandering Waterways series: a peer to peer learning exchange project for local elected officials.
The pilot received funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation under the Alliance’s Chesapeake Watershed ForumPlus grant and with that support, has blossomed to be a multi-state activity partnering with various state associations.
Hosted by state delegation members of the Local Government Advisory Committee, this project aims to encourage local leaders to connect with and learn from each other, while offering opportunities to immerse themselves in on-the-ground projects that reflect their unique regional perspectives, and assist them in identifying resources and assistance to take the next steps in clean water restoration or retention activities within their communities.
Learn more about the Alliance’s Wandering Waterways series, past, present, and future, below!
Kicking the project off in 2019, the Alliance hosted a 2-day bus tour entitled, Wandering Virginia’s Waterways, where elected officials of the Central Shenandoah Valley region were invited to explore and connect with Virginia’s coastal communities in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. County Supervisors to Town Mayors analyzed living shorelines along the Potomac River, examined local riverside economies, and witnessed sustainable practices of oyster hatchery and harvest on the Rappahannock River.
Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (2020)
In 2020, the Peer to Peer Learning Exchange adapted to virtual, allowing access to local decision-makers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia respectively. Seeking Stormwater Solutions: Getting the MOST for Local Elected Officials online sessions were coordinated in partnership with the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center to curate a unique course schedule per each state cohort, and provide an opportunity to address regional barriers in reducing stormwater runoff, installing efficient green infrastructure practices, and engaging community members in regards to stormwater management.
Maryland and Pennsylvania (2021)
In Fall 2021, the Alliance will resume Peer to Peer bus tours in both Maryland and Pennsylvania. Wandering Maryland’s Waterways and Wandering Pennsylvania’s Waterways will invite local elected officials from each state to tour select sites in effort to address the economic impacts of clean water in Maryland and flooding challenges in Pennsylvania. Maryland participants will visit the Baltimore Harbor, Tilghman Island, and places in between, while Pennsylvania will focus inland in Leola and Lebanon, before exploring areas around the Susquehanna River.
The Alliance hopes to continue its efforts by broadening the reach of the Wandering Waterways series. This includes expanding bus routes to be more accessible to elected officials of multiple areas, encouraging tours in more Bay jurisdictions, and revisiting certain watershed states to focus on new communities and evolving challenges.
Look out for more information on what’s in store for 2022!
Alliance staff during the Wandering Virginia’s Waterways Bus Tour, 2019
Local Government Projects Coordinator
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