Annis Water Resources Institute expands conservation education

Courtesy /

Courtesy /

Alexandra Loyd

Recently, Grand Valley State University’s Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) hosted a delegation of officials from Japan at the request of the office of Governor Rick Snyder. 

The AWRI is a multidisciplinary research organization within GVSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Their mission is to enhance and preserve freshwater resources, as well as bring awareness to the multifaceted problems surrounding the consumption and conservation of water by integrating research, community outreach and student engagement.

“The delegates came from the Shiga Prefecture, which is the region where Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan, is located,” said Al Steinman, Professor of Water Resources at GVSU. “The delegates were visiting Michigan as part of a cultural exchange trip, but one of their focus areas was lake restoration. Hence, we were able to show them about the restoration efforts on Muskegon Lake and how we engaged the community in the process; many of the problems that we face here are similar to the ones they face there.”

Dr. Steinman is on the task force at Grand Valley that’s in the process of developing a new Professional Science Masters Program about water policy. 

“Our goal is to provide additional education to people who currently work in the water field but want to get a broader and deeper understanding of policy issues, including science, law, and governance,” Steinman said. The task force hopes the program will be ready to start by Fall 2019. 

Alongside the development of a new masters program, the Grand Valley Student Senate has proposed an initiative regarding water—a program that would call attention to the importance of freshwater conservation on a global scale. 

While the initiative was just recently proposed and is still in the brainstorming stages, Student Senate will be hosting a county commissioners meeting in November, where they’ll be talking more about some of Ottawa County’s own water conservation efforts. 

The Student Senate will be drafting new ideas for the initiative within the next few months, which may become a new signature event for Grand Valley as the AWRI continues to provide hands-on approaches for students and apply practical solutions to water issues.