Watershed Alliance Experts Explore New Multi-benefit Projects

Twenty experts from the environmental, governmental, and design-engineering sectors met this week at Friends’ office along the Main Stem of the Chicago River to explore how we can collectively leverage our resources and expertise to support the advancement of broader nature-based solutions projects. The workshop used three subwatershed geographies as discussion topics, all of which are emphasized by the Natural Solutions Tool as areas of need and opportunity.

The workshop participants comprise the Implementation Working Group of the Greater Chicago Watershed Alliance which meets monthly to discuss the preparatory work needed to advance multi-benefit nature-based solutions projects, including engineering, site assessments, and partnership development, and also to match projects to upcoming funding opportunities. The talented group also identifies potential barriers to project advancement and ways that we can collaborate to support project realization.

“The workshop was a gathering of creative professionals who came together to share knowledge, past work in these subwatersheds, and to reflect upon strategies for overcoming barriers to realizing broader investment in multi-benefit stormwater infrastructure investments,” said Adam Flickinger, Friends’ planning director. “We are so grateful for all these experts volunteering their time and lending their expertise to driving forward a vision for greater watershed health.”

The approach of the Watershed Alliance is to provide a forum for expanding our region’s capacity for watershed scale nature-based solutions. Friends’ intent with leading this unprecedented coalition is to harness the power of natural systems to maximize positive improvements to benefit people, water, and wildlife. The outcomes of the workshop will help the group think creatively about how to prepare projects and bundle them together for strategic funding partnerships in the future.