Janis Bobrin honored by Ecology Center for service to Washtenaw County and its citizens

Water resources commissioner receives Munzel Award

Janis Bobrin, who has long been Michigan's most innovative guardian of clean water, received the Ecology Center's Herbert L. Munzel Award for Environmental Activism at the organization's annual fall event earlier this month.

Nearly 200 supporters of the Ecology Center attended the event, which featured a presentation by UCLA Prof. Richard Jackson, an  influential scholar on the impact of urban design and environmental risks on public health.

As Washtenaw County's Water Resources Commissioner for more than 20 years, Bobrin introduced sustainable approaches to stormwater management and public education efforts to promote water stewardship. She was re-elected five times and is retiring at the end of this year.

"Janis Bobrin transformed the way Michigan's local governments deal with water, perhaps our most critical natural resource," according to Michael Garfield, director of the Ecology Center. "Before her, drain commissioners and other local officials worked to build and maintain drains and storm systems. Today, they focus on the protection of drinking water and surface water quality through enlightened stormwater management and ecological restoration."

The Ecology Center's Herbert L. Munzel Award for Environmental Activism was created in 2004 to honor "inspirational, courageous, and effective community-based advocacy by a Michigan resident for clean air, safe water, and healthy communities over many years." The award is named after a long-time southeast Michigan resident who fought for clean air and water for more than 40 years.

"No one does this kind of work alone---watershed planning and implementation, stream restoration, changing ordinances and legislation, getting ballot initiatives passed to preserve open space and natural areas---all this work takes a committed community. And that’s what I have had the honor to be a part of," Bobrin said after being presented with the award.

"My colleagues around the state, are both jealous and pretty amazed at what happens around here, the innovative environmental protection projects and programs we’ve undertaken. They ask me how I manage to get public buy-in and support. I can answer them that this community doesn’t just support the work we do to protect and restore waterways and other natural resources: they expect it. If I’ve been successful, it’s because of the community in which I work."

EcoLink — October 2012 Ecolink
An online publication of the Ecology Center

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