OUR20 Communities

A new FLOW initiative helping communities put water stewardship at the heart of all they do

Local communities are where policies take shape in our daily lives. At a time when environmental protection seems less likely to come from Washington or Lansing, best practices begin in local communities. That is the foundation of our Blue Communities initiative, which empowers communities to instill the values of water stewardship in their policies and practices.  This grassroots, place-based program is built on the knowledge that water is precious to all, and its stewardship has the potential to unite communities in achieving environmental goals.

Around the Great Lakes, which contain roughly 20% of the world’s available surface fresh water, old and failing infrastructure, urbanization, intense agricultural uses, runoff and many more sources are threatening water quality. The Grand Traverse Bay watershed contains portions of two of the fastest growing counties in Michigan. As the population increases, the region will need to think ahead on how to provide clean drinking water and to protect the water amenities that support its economy and quality of life.

Goals of Blue Communities

FLOW is launching the initiative with the assistance of a team of graduate students from the University of Michigan, supervised by Dr. Paul Seelbach.  These students, whose expertise spans several disciplines, will meet with community stakeholders, review area communities’ water-related policies and practices, research best practices from around the country and world, and work with FLOW to produce recommendations defining what constitutes a Blue Community while providing a road map on how to get there locally—and ultimately all around the Great Lakes.

Water For All

Help communities value and know their water systems and use public trust law to move forward on their own before they are forced to respond to crisis


Blue Solutions

Foster creative, effective, educational programs and public communication processes that ensure economic and social progress rooted in green infrastructure, ecological knowledge and values, and wards off the threat of urban sprawl


Collaboration At Work

Empower residents, leaders and decision makers in the Great Lakes Basin to be well informed and collaborative stewards

Origins of the Blue Communities Project

Originally developed by the Council of Canadians

"The Blue Communities Project encourages municipalities and Indigenous communities to support the idea of a water commons framework, recognizing that water is a shared resource for all, by passing resolutions that:

  1. Recognize water and sanitation as human rights.
  2. Ban or phase out the sale of bottled water in municipal facilities and at municipal events.
  3. Promote publicly financed, owned, and operated water and wastewater services."