We have a new face at Sweet Water! Janet Pritchard just joined our team last month as the new Policy Committee Coordinator. Taylor Baseheart sat down with Janet last week and asked her a few questions.
Janet, are you originally from Wisconsin?
JP: I am. I grew up in Oak Creek until I was 10 years old, then I moved to Waukesha where my parents still reside.
I heard you lived briefly in England for a time.
JP: I did. Although I grew up in Wisconsin, I haven’t actually lived here much since going off to college. I lived in New York City and Washington DC, then moved to London where I worked for an environmental public interest law group on climate change and global deforestation issues. That work focussed on European Union policies and I also led a team working on the forest tenure rights of forest-dependent communities in central and west Africa. I moved back home not just for personal reasons, but also because I want to work more on a more tangible, local level, , with local stakeholders. I really like working on state-level policies, so I am excited to be able to do that with Sweet Water.
How did you hear about Sweet Water? What drew you to our work?
JP: After moving back to Wisconsin, I continued working on climate change and global deforestation as a consultant to client organizations back in Europe. At the same time, I began exploring different environmental issues that I could get involved with in Wisconsin in order to transfer my professional life to Wisconsin. Water issues here in southeastern Wisconsin are very dynamic and exciting with the Global Water Center located here, and the fact that we live next to the largest freshwater system in the world! Clearly, freshwater issues are very intriguing -- a lot is happening and needs to happen. So I started going to conferences, including the Sweet Water conference in April of 2016, and started running into Linda at different meetings I attended. I got to know her over the past year and began doing low key, volunteer work offering input on some work that Sweet Water was doing. So that is how the relationship started to grow. When the Policy Coordinator position became available, I perceived it as a very exciting opportunity for me, and I leapt at it.
What projects are you working on now through Sweet Water?
JP: I will be working with the Sweet Water Policy Committee exploring and analyzing different issues related to Sweet Water’s work. Some of the ongoing issues coming onto the Policy Committee’s agenda include toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which are found in pavement sealants, bacteria loading, total maximum daily load (TMDL) plan implementation, developing sustainable financing mechanisms to support the development and maintenance of green infrastructure, and riparian protection.
I will also help to develop watershed-based management plans. Water systems follow their own natural boundaries, not municipal boundaries, and they are most effectively managed when municipalities located within a watershed work together to manage and protect water resources. I’m really interested in the challenges and opportunities that collaborative management of natural resources presents to stakeholders, from a policy and governance perspective. So how can municipalities work together to manage our freshwater system in the most cost effective way for the whole region? I will be looking at some of the policy issues related to that kind of cooperation and, importantly, looking at different finance streams available to do that work, such as implementing green infrastructure and other projects on the ground. State and federal financing are conventional ways to fund green infrastructure, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District also finances green infrastructure through the rates it collects from water users. But the need to secure sustainable financing for the management of our water resources over the long term is great, and it competes for financing with a lot of other priorities. I will be exploring other potential sources of finance and innovative financing mechanisms to supplement currently available resources.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not at work?
JP: One of the things I’ve enjoyed since coming back to Wisconsin is biking. When the weather is good I will bike about 15 miles a day, and maybe even longer stretches on weekends. I am really enjoying the bike trail systems in Wisconsin, especially the Oak Leaf trail which takes me traffic-free from my home in Shorewood, through the city, to the lakefront. I am also a mother of three teenagers, so that keeps me pretty busy in my off hours as well.