Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Lynne Heasley

Second Advisor

Ashley Colewick


Stormwater Utilities (SWU) ordinances are gaining wide popularity in municipalities throughout the Great Lakes region of the United States. A SWU creates a fund to maintain and update stormwater infrastructure, which in turn helps to reduce destructive flooding, and also results in higher quality waterways. This study examines two SWUFs in the State of Michigan: one in the City of Jackson (COJ), which implemented a SWUF in 2011; and the second in the City of Ann Arbor (COAA), which implemented its SWUF in 1984. These two case studies offer important contrasts and lessons. For instance, as a result of resident outcry, the County of Jackson sued the City of Jackson for implementing its SWU policy, whereas Ann Arbor citizens recently lobbied the city to raise their fees to ensure even more robust action. I examine these case histories, focusing especially on the roots of their successes and failures and lessons for other Michigan municipalities. I argue that different “frameworks” of public communication provide a central (though not sole) explanation for the different outcomes. My core research questions include:

1. How did Jackson and Ann Arbor frame the ordinance to city residents and residents of surrounding areas?

2. More specifically, how did the two cities communicate the financing mechanisms to residents and relevant agencies or other governmental units?

3. What lessons can other municipalities in Michigan derive from the experiences of Ann Arbor and Jackson (e.g., is there potential for an expansion of SWU ordinances to address stormwater runoff and increased frequency and intensity of urban flooding?)

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

ThesisPresentation.pdf (1372 kB)
Defense Presentation