Michigan Slow To Capitalize On Water Resources
By Sara Jerome
Michigan is behind the ball when it comes to embracing its water resources, and its neighbors are showing the Great Lakes state up.
That's according to a report in Advance Publications.
"Milwaukee [Wisconsin] and the province of Ontario [Canada] are well ahead of Michigan’s efforts to capitalize on an $850 billion global freshwater economy," the article said, citing John Austin, who was hired by Michigan last year to grow its water economy.
“Michigan needs to catch up and leapfrog states and communities vying for the prize of water technology, research and education leadership, and who are marketing their water-based natural assets and sustainability/lifestyle ‘brand,’” Austin said.
Michigan has everything it needs to support a booming "blue economy," including access to Lake Michigan. The state boasts "abundant freshwater, a growing tourism industry, world-class research universities focused on water issues, and manufacturers capable of turning innovative concepts into marketable products, the article said.
Austin said neighboring state Wisconsin is doing a better job capitalizing on the Great Lakes.
“Milwaukee was probably the first community in the Great Lakes region to identify water as its competitive advantage,” he said in the Advance piece. “Milwaukee began to organize around that eight or nine years ago; we’re a little late in developing some of these markets.”
But it's not all about competition. Michigan, Wisconsin, and nearby Canadian communities must all work together to build the “blue economy,” Austin said in a piece in The New Republic.
"The regions on both sides of the Great Lakes international border need to team up to strengthen their highly integrated economies," he said.
A study by two researchers at The State University of New York backs that up. The research pointed out an area where the Great Lakes states are already cooperating effectively: the Science Advisory Board.
"Comprised of experts drawn from the academy, NGOs, and private sector representatives, this board was established pursuant to the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). Under the GLWQA, the parties are obliged to maintain and restore the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem," the study said.
Estimates say global spending on water-related technology will reach $1 billion by 2020, according to the Advance piece.
Image credit: "Michigan, USA," © 2013 Woody H1, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/