Comprehensive Plan for a Sustainable Urban Watershed

EPA Grant Number: SU831858
Title: Comprehensive Plan for a Sustainable Urban Watershed
Investigators: Baba, Ronald K. , Damkoehler, David L.
Current Investigators: Baba, Ronald K. , Bishop, Elizabeth A. , Heise, Erin A. , Hodek, Kristen A. , Damkoehler, David L. , TenHaken, Kathryn M. , Volk, Melissa M. , Kohlmann, Suzanne M. , Schanz, Christopher R.
Institution: University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $9,891
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Technical Challenge. This proposal deals with the urban watershed. The urban watershed is important to the quality of life in the city. For many urban dwellers, the urban stream represents a unique opportunity for recreation and the experience of the natural world. At the same time, the urban watershed is subject to diverse land uses that result in its degradation. Headwaters are often in agricultural uses that result in the release of flashy runoff flows and harmful levels of sediment and nutrient pollution downstream. In urban reaches, the stream, because it is an amenity, stimulates residential and commercial development and the impervious surfaces that traditionally attend to these uses. These forces act to destroy the resource they seek to exploit. The urban watershed is a complex problem – a problem that involves many stakeholders and the diverse values that they pursue. Moreover, its solution is made difficult by the fact that the problem is impervious to political and community boundaries.


This proposal focuses on the Baird Creek watershed in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This stream and its watershed are recognized as a valuable resource in the metropolitan area, and a number of protection and restoration projects have been initiated. However, there is no comprehensive vision for the sustainability of the watershed. The students of the UW-Green Bay Environmental Design Studio propose to compile background information and integrate the actions of the various public and private actors to design and publish a comprehensive sustainability plan for the Baird Creek watershed. The planning team will use system dynamics methods to establish an iterative process of problem definition and graphic discussion facilitation techniques to negotiate goals and establish strategic partnerships.

Sustainability, P3. On the largest scale, tributary streams and rivers are the key to the water quality in Lake Michigan. Unless aggressive stewardship programs are established in the watersheds that comprise the Lake Michigan basin, the scientific study of Lake water quality seems an empty exercise. Watersheds are the contexts for economic activity. Successful comprehensive plans for watersheds must recognize the legitimacy of the broad range of economic stakes involved and seek community economies that will ensure the sustainability of the resource. Urban watersheds are a precious community resource. They provide opportunities for recreation, education, and connection to the natural world – they are essential to the quality of life of urban peoples.

Evaluation. The process proposed here incorporates numerous facilitated feedback exercises with the public and the various actors involved or interested in Baird Creek and its watershed. This mode of evaluation is appropriate for a planning and design project. Another level of evaluation will focus on the extent to which the policies, programs and ordinances are modified as a result of the comprehensive plan.

Implementation as an Educational Tool. The concepts of sustainability and stewardship are already integrated into the curriculum of Urban and Regional Studies. These concepts will be emphasized through the use of project materials primary readings and discussion foci in the department capstone course required of all majors. In addition, these materials will be integrated into the syllabi of courses in urban and regional planning and community economic development.

Supplemental Keywords:

watersheds, land, sediments, ecosystem, habitats, sustainable development, public policy, community based, planning, environmental assets, modeling, Great Lakes, EPA Region 5, agriculture., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water & Watershed, Restoration, State, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Environmental Engineering, Social Science, Watersheds, social science research, stakeholder groups, urban watershed rehabilitation method, community involvement, community-based research, non-point source pollution, decision making, conservation, management alternatives, integrated assessment, ecological recovery, game theory, aquatic ecosystems, non-point sources, Wisconsin (WI), environmental rehabilitation, ecology assessment models, public policy, community values, restoration planning, stakeholder feedback, watershed restoration, sociological

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report