Addressing water quality and community resilience to flooding simultaneously - A new Coast Model of the Watershed Game

by John Bilotta

The Watershed Game Coast Model is a recent adaptation of the original versions of the widely-used education and training tool. The new model is intended to be used with coastal communities and focus on reducing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in coastal waters while enhancing community resilience to flooding.   

The new Coast Model game board is the fourth model in a series and depicts land uses appropriate for coastal environments.  The River, Stream, and Lake models have existed for more than ten years.  These four choices provide the opportunity to focus on the water resource most relevant for a group of community stakeholders and students.  

Fifty new tool cards representing best management practices and policies have been developed for use in the Coast Model that reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in coastal waters or enhance a community’s resilience to flooding.  Participants must choose tools balancing financial resources, pollution reduction and increases in resiliency to flooding.

The development of the Coast Model is a collaborative effort led by Minnesota Sea Grant, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Alabama Water Institute, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, and the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center. The new Coast Model for Local Leaders should be available in early 2021.

The Watershed Game is a decade-old proven interactive tool for educating audiences about relationships between land use and water quality in streams, lakes, large rivers, and with the recent addition, coastal estuaries.  The gaming approach serves to break down group barriers, encourage dialogue, civility and mutual respect; and build a sense of community among participants. 

Given the current and future challenges revolving around in-person community workshops and trainings, Minnesota Sea Grant is pursuing adaptations of the Watershed Game for remote delivery and online learning.

More information about all the versions of the WSG can be found online.