Voice of the River

From Big Sky Watershed Corps Member to Water Conservation Program Coordinator

The Task Force’s AmeriCorps Member Makes a Big Transition

In November, the Task Force welcomed not only the approaching holiday and ski season but also a new Water Conservation Program Coordinator. Emily Casey, our 2016 & 2017 Big Sky Watershed Corps member, transitioned to a new role as a full-time employee to help inspire a water conservation ethic across the community through two main projects: a water conservation rebate program and drought resilience planning.

The Task Force has hosted a Big Sky Watershed Corps since the inception of the program in 2011 to build capacity to protect water resources in Big Sky. Two staff members have joined the organization as a result of the program. The Task Force will welcome a new Big Sky Watershed Corps member in January.

During her two terms, Emily spearheaded two projects that focus on water conservation: a stakeholder-led drought resilience planning group and a water conservation incentive program for residents of the Big Sky community. She recruited 37 local community members to voluntarily participate in the Upper Gallatin Drought/Water Supply Focus Group. Through the Focus Group, Emily facilitated conversations on drought history and impacts, drought vulnerabilities, and mitigation and response strategies. She is circulating a draft outline of a resilience plan for the Upper Gallatin with a foundation in local needs and values. In her new role as a staff member, Emily will revise this draft, present findings at public meetings, and compile a complete Upper Gallatin Drought Resilience Plan.

Emily launched the Big Sky Water Conservation Program in Fall 2016. The Big Sky program awards incentives to individuals who voluntarily implement high efficiency indoor and outdoor fixtures and appliances and is the second of its kind in Montana. To date, 77 toilets, shower heads, and clothes washers have been upgraded in the Big Sky area, saving about 2,540 gallons per day across 38 residences. In addition, $6,104 in rebates have been issued to residents to reward their efforts to prioritize water conservation at home. Emily will work with commercial water users moving forward to develop incentive options for indoor and outdoor water use systems.

During her term of service, Emily contributed over 3,400 hours of service to the Task Force. Emily helped monitor 320 miles of Montana’s rivers and streams, interacted with 473 volunteers across the watershed, and collected 15,391 points of contact through various education and outreach efforts. We look forward to the work she will complete to inspire stewardship of the Gallatin River Watershed.


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