Watersheds in the Northeast-Midwest region, ranging from freshwater river systems and lakes to estuarine systems and bays, are unique ecosystems with ecological and economic importance. Unfortunately, human impacts have degraded the region’s waters, impacting recreational and consumptive uses, and putting human health at risk. Advocates of comprehensive watershed and ecosystem management have long stressed the need for interagency and interstate cooperation and for management of resources according to natural, landscape-level boundaries rather than traditional political boundaries. The Northeast-Midwest Institute has played a unique leadership role in advancing this watershed approach in Congress.
Water Infrastructure is a critical component of Northeast and Midwest cities that connects the environment and economy in our region, both literally and figuratively. The economy cannot thrive in the absence of reliable drinking water and wastewater treatment and distribution. From treatment plants to collection systems the evolution of Northeast-Midwest cities requires an evolution of sorts from our basic infrastructure. Examples include expanding treatment for new pollutants or redesigning transmission systems as water users and population centers move within and around cities. Funding programs, research, and regulations at the federal and state level influence the process and speed with which these changes are made. There are opportunities to influence federal and state policies to better support the changing water infrastructure needs of Northeast and Midwest cities.