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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Water Management and Conservation Research » Research » Research Project #432899

Research Project: Securing Water for and from Agriculture through Effective Community & Stakeholder Engagement

Location: Water Management and Conservation Research

Project Number: 2020-13000-005-001-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2017
End Date: Apr 30, 2022

To develop an adaptive framework that will help water managers optimize water resources at a regional level. This framework will do so by providing tools to facilitate the societal acceptance of using the right water for the right place and time based on sustainable scientific and engineered solutions developed through stakeholder engagement throughout the process.

Sustainably optimizing water resources can be achieved through a collaborative and mutually beneficial process between various stakeholders and water managers. Barriers to maximizing water resources broadly fall into one of the following areas: 1) Societal; 2) Institutional; 3) Infrastructure; and 4) Technical. Societal obstacles include any reason that an individual or group is hesitant or unwilling to consider optimizing water resources by allowing for the exchange of different waters to achieve the goal of ‘The Right Water for the Right Place and Time’. Institutional obstacles include laws and regulations that prevent maximizing water resources. The ability to provide the right water for the right place and time also requires physical infrastructure to move water from place to place. Finally, technical understanding is necessary to ensure that using ‘The Right Water for the Right Place and Time’ is sustainable. Ultimately, the sustainability of any practice will be determined by the ‘science’ of the solution; however, societal approval of the proposed action is desirable prior to implementing the solution. Thus, critical to the process is the use of relevant scientific information presented in a manner accessible to non-experts, such that society understands the technical solutions and has confidence in the recommendations. The framework will be based on four case studies where water quantity and quality are issues. Two will be in riparian based states, including Pennsylvania and Nebraska. Two will be in prior-appropriation based states, including Arizona and Texas. The project team includes people with specific contacts in the key states. These will provide a connection to work with stakeholders in specific watersheds in each of these states to develop, analyze, and refine the potential framework using a structured stakeholder engagement process.