A New Approach to Fund Watershed Management: An Evaluation of Funding Mechanisms. Client: Macatawa Area Coordinating Council. Contact: Kelly Goward, Watershed Project Manager, 301 Douglas Ave., Holland, MI 49424. 616-395-2688, [email protected]  

Watershed management is a collaborative, comprehensive process that assesses conditions and implements land use and water management practices for protecting and improving the quality and quantity of watershed resources. While such a process seeks to develop sustainable management solutions, currently there is no sustainable source of funding to support these activities in Michigan. The cost to implement watershed plans varies for each watershed, depending on its size and the severity of its problems. The lack of consistent and adequate funding limits the effectiveness of watershed management activities, not only in West Michigan but across the entire state.

To address this issue and continue to advance watershed protection and restoration goals, a project team comprising representatives from the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (MACC), Grand Valley Metropolitan Council (GVMC), and the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC), sought to develop an innovative and sustainable funding mechanism to support watershed management activities within Prosperity Region 4 which includes 13 counties in the West Michigan Prosperity Alliance.

Public Sector Consultants (PSC) was hired to evaluate the potential of four different mechanisms to provide sustainable funding for watershed management—each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The approaches studied were:

  • Voter-approved millages
  • Flat fees on parcels
  • Watershed management districts
  • Pay for Success Bonds

The study was completed in 2016; the project team is now embarking on a community engagement strategy to review the funding alternatives and develop a sustainable source of funding to implement watershed management plans.

A copy of the full report is available below.