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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: America's Watersheds: Technical Basis for New Strategies 1297

Authors
item Lane, Leonard
item NICHOLS, MARY

Submitted to: American Society Of Civil Engineers Watershed Management Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 20, 2000
Publication Date: June 20, 2000

Interpretive Summary: In 1999 a book titled "New Strategies for America's Watersheds" was published by the National Research Council. The book presents a review of scientific and institutional problems related to watersheds, especially water quality, water quality, and ecosystem integrity. This paper presents a synopsis of the technical aspects of the "watershed" approach in research, policy, and management. Effective integration of natural sciences, social sciences, and engineering in watershed management depends on sound scientific methods and engineering practices, but those methods and practices are no more successful than the data, information, simulation models, and knowledge they employ. Although tools are available for efficiently interpreting and analyzing large data sets, improved land management is limited by significant gaps in our scientific understanding of watershed processes and by the limited accessibility of scientifically defensible tools for decision making. Currently, decision makers do not have access to truly integrated contemporary watershed simulation models that are easy to use and scientific defensible. We propose a framework for developing systematic approaches to watershed management that may be a means of moving toward our goal of integrated watershed management.

Technical Abstract: Effective integration of natural sciences, social sciences, and engineering in watershed management depends on sound scientific methods and engineering practices, but those methods and practices are no more successful than the data, information, simulation models, and knowledge they employ. Currently, more data, information, and simulation models are available than never before. Although tools are available for efficiently interpreting an analyzing large data sets, improved land management is limited by significant gaps in our scientific understanding of watershed processes and by the limited accessibility of scientifically defensible tools for decision making. There are gaps in basic data, in the capabilities of simulation modeling, and in our knowledge of how to apply models in decision making. Currently, decision makers do not have access to truly integrated contemporary watershed simulation models that satisfy minimum criteria for accessibility, ease of application, and scientific defensibility. This paper presents a synopsis of the technical aspects of a review and assessment of the utility and limitations of the "watershed" approach in research, policy, and management undertaken in 1996-1999 by the National Research Council (NRC). We propose a framework for developing systematic approaches to watershed management that may be a means of moving toward our goal of integrated watershed management.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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