Water Resources Policy, Development & Sustainable Communities

THG is producing measurable and replicable results by deconstructing and addressing the interrelated challenges of sustaining the quality and continued availability of our water resources. We emphasize transparency, partnerships, and systemic problem-solving in order to inform the national mainstream on sustainable and innovative practices. We also encourage transparency and civic engagement to foster broader participation, inclusion, and commitment to tested solutions to complex problems.

We are focused on bringing policy and practice to bear on local and regional outputs toward building sustainable urban and rural community outcomes. Our team is comprised of experienced problem solvers, practitioners, and sought-after thought leaders with direct experience in sustainable planning and design, stormwater management and source water protection, water resource destination enrichment, and innovative partnerships and financing strategies to support water infrastructure renewal.

We understand the currency of strategic relationships and the importance of effective collaboration in making tangible progress in tackling tough challenges and seizing unique opportunities. We also recognize the critical importance of well-thought-out case development and effective engagement of key stakeholder and investor groups. We are particularly invested in community and institutional capacity building.

Water is ubiquitous, serving as a common thread connecting all aspects of life. As the planet’s most precious natural resource, its quality and availability are core determinants of individual and community quality of life. Community, ecology, and economy must be addressed and advanced in an integrated fashion fully accounting for short- and long-term social costs. Water resource issues are typically regional, interjurisdictional, and dispersed. Local actions can confound systemic conditions or they can add regional value if properly integrated into larger, scalable platforms and effectively communicated. The challenges and actions needed to sustain our nation’s water resources are geographically such that there must be an integration of planning across programs, sectors, and jurisdictions in order for local and regional governance to be effective and efficient.

While we lack a national water policy, we have a number of national programs that can be better integrated and complemented by a strong grassroots stewardship ethic borne out of an effort to raise public water awareness and civic engagement to transform water users into water stewards. We have to move beyond a culture of compliance. As an interjurisdictional public good that must be appreciated and managed first as a public resource, protecting our water future will require stewardship from local, regional, state, and federal levels. Perhaps most of all, efficiency will be the new conservation as we enter an era of constrained resources, climate uncertainty, and inevitable population growth.

Our group believes in sustainability and rebuilding system and community resiliency; a belief that our quality of life and the prosperity of our communities depend on our wise stewardship of available natural capital. We believe that an inclusive, leveraged or collaborative approach is critical for successful stewardship. Citizens, communities, and corporations each have a role to play.

Like many others, we seek more effective collaborative models for success. Our niche is assisting with the creation and promotion of value-based, collaborative relationship-building that can be brought to scalable and replicable levels by the participating institutions. By identifying and connecting water achievers and demonstrating real results, we are uniquely equipped to facilitate effective collaboration and strategic alignment between public and private organizations committed to sustaining the quality and continued availability of our water resources.

  • Ongoing interaction with EPA, USDA, and the Corps of Engineers to examine industrial, agricultural, and recreational use of our nation’s water resources, securing their resiliency, and the resiliency of basin communities whose economies and quality of life depend on healthy functioning rivers.
  • Assist community leaders and local institutions in having a voice and place at the table in regional and national conversations.
  • Build brand awareness for institutions and communities, adding value and capacity to tackle key water, food, and energy-related issues and challenges.
  • Advise all levels of government, NGOs, and industry on land use plan development and community master planning funding and outsourcing.
  • THG envisions a new way of approaching regional planning, not by state, county, or local jurisdictional, but rather landscape or spatially-based. Given our experience in watersheds and catchments and the belief economic planning in an era of building resource scarcity needs to be more closely aligned with local and regional natural capitals, we are advancing a corridor approach to economic redevelopment that focuses on the opportunities and needs of river basin corridors. To this end, and in collaboration with key regional institutions, we have commenced efforts to survey and assess individual and community needs to establish an organizational presence in the Lower 80-mile corridor of the Illinois River Valley to empower local communities to pursue enhanced system resiliency, enriched community livability, and a spatial platform for regional economic redevelopment.
  • The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) was founded in 2002 with the aspiration of becoming a leader in scholarly research, education, and outreach related to the interconnectedness of large rivers, their floodplains, watersheds, and their associated communities. Since 2009, THG has been working closely with NGRREC’s leadership to support institutional development toward realization of short-term objectives and their long-term vision.
  • Given the central role the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers occupies in the overall development of our nation’s water resources, THG maintains ongoing collaboration between the Corps, particularly at the District and system level, and within the operational community. THG is working closely with Corps resource managers and scientists to call greater attention to the source water protection opportunities of better informed riparian forest management on Corps operational lands along the Upper Mississippi and lower Illinois Rivers via the Corps’ Upper Mississippi River System Systemic Forest Stewardship Plan.
  • Since its inception, The National Cooperative Ecosystem Study Units Program (CESU) has proven itself as a cost effective and nimble sourcing device for Federal Managers. THG has been working closely with the CESU national director, key unit leaders, and CESU member institutions to establish a landscape-scale, inter-unit research consortium focused on the Mississippi River Basin to bring greater attention and capacity to federal resource management activities that can drive timely research and monitoring commitments utilizing the CESU model and process.
  • THG is supporting ongoing development of the Great Rivers Ecological Observatory Network (GREON), a network of remote, near-real-time river monitoring platforms to measure water quality parameters, allowing scientists to detect trends and evaluate management and policy decisions while better understand big river ecology on a watershed scale.
  • THG is supporting ongoing development of the Great Lakes to Gulf (GLTG), a web-based virtual observatory that includes historical and current information from the Mississippi River and its tributaries related to water quality, characteristics of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the rivers and floodplains, and interactions between humans and various components of the watershed.
  • In October 2017, THG held its Summit entitled, The Future of Transboundary Water Management – Cooperation, Informed Decision-Making, and Empowering Local Actors, in partnership with the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and the National Great Rivers Research & Education Center. The Summit convened international and domestic thought leaders to consider the role of big data in transboundary water management and decision-making tied to the environmental, legal, and human dimensions.

      • THG proudly supports the 501(c)(3) non-profit, the Water Resources Action Project Inc. (WRAP). WRAP addresses conflict mitigation through cross-border environmental peacebuilding programs and activities for youth, with a focus on water resources. Since 2009, WRAP has built rainwater harvesting systems in a network of middle and high schools in Israel, East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Jordan. WRAP uses digital technology to connect these schools to American schools. WRAP believes if diverse students in the Middle East participate in joint environmental education activities, which are carried out in a safe, neutral environment, they will gain a greater understanding of one another and develop more trusting and positive relationships. THG’s Brendan McGinnis volunteers his services as WRAP’s Executive Director.