An Analysis of Community Capacity to Implement Sustainable Water Policy in Sprawling Municipalities
According to Molly McCready, a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, there is an issue that too often goes unnoticed in urban living: water system sustainability and management.
In her thesis work, titled “An Analysis of Community Capacity to Implement Sustainable Water Policy in Sprawling Municipalities,” McCready will address the issue of urban sprawl on water resources, noting that urban development often outpaces the resource planning and management necessary to accommodate drastic community growth. She cites a 99 percent increase in population and a 127 percent increase in U.S. water usage since 1950, resulting in nearly one in 10 watersheds being stressed as demand for water resources exceeds natural supply.
McCready indicates that a transition into more sustainable water management practices is necessary but requires citizen compliance through collaborative governance. She argues that this can be facilitated through direct citizen engagement with policymakers to form collaborative and transparent governance.
McCready will perform a case study analysis in Waukesha, Wis., using interviews and surveys. She will compare these data to previously conducted studies in Boston, Mass., and Charlotte, N.C., to assess previous municipalities’ successes and failures with collaborative governance for water management.
Working with decision-makers and community members in Waukesha, McCready will study the process of how collaborative decision-making proceeds within the community and gain an understanding of how community members perceive their capability to act as autonomous individuals through participation in democracy on sustainable natural resource management.