Urban Waters Program

A program dedicated to community engagement in urban water management through social science research and outreach. 

Current and Past Research

urban river

Supporting Community-Centered Planning and Policy for Urban Water

The purpose of this project is to inform community-centered urban water planning and policy. To do this we will explore multiple narratives of water through inclusive community engagement and collaborative research in three Minnesota urban centers: Duluth, St. Cloud, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. We aim to build relationships and support existing and emergent dialogues and we will document diverse water stories through multiple methods including listening to storytellers, conducting personal interviews, facilitating focus groups, and administering inclusive onsite and mail surveys. The outcomes of this effort will be community-directed and in addition, we will produce a report of our process and discoveries which will be publicly available and presented.


A Community Capacity Assessment for Stormwater Management in Three Twin Cities Metro Area Watersheds

Researchers investigated community capacity and conservation behaviors associated with stormwater management from the perspectives of diverse community members who live and work in the watersheds. 

Key conclusions were (1) tap into exitsing community assests, (2) connect with community issues and link to community identities, (3) remove community water barriers, and (4) emotivate in water programming.

minnehaha creek
Photo Credit: Minnehaha Creek Watershed District

A Community Capacity Assessment Study in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed

The overarching goal was to assess community capacity to address water resource problems and threats along Reach 20, a highly urbanized segment of Minnehaha Creek.

Key Recommendations were (1) listen to and engage local experts, (2) remove barriers and address capital constraints, (3) link water resource protection and restoration to community assets and needs, and cultural connections to water, (4) rethink and redesign communication and engagement approaches, and (5) build trust.

nokomis businesses
Photo credit: Citydata.com

Conservation Practice Adoption: Motivations and constraints among Lake Nokomis Area business owners

This project sought to better understand what motivates and constrains business owners in adoption of sustainable business practices through examining their perspectives on water resources and onsite water management. Key recommendations were to (1) support conservation leadership, recognize leaders, and create peer learning networks (for those business owners who are conscious of water use and runoff), (2) build awareness of water resource impacts and understanding of the linkages between stormwater, runoff, pollution, and conservation practices (for those business owners for whom water resource issues are not on their radar), (3) make conservation the social norm in the Lake Nokomis area business community, and (4) address economic constraints and reduce risk and uncertainty.