Sustainable access to adequate water ranks among the most serious challenges facing the world in the 21st century. Finding solutions requires coordinated efforts by natural and social scientists, engineers, water managers, policy-makers, and stakeholders from the broader community. These groups have diverse interests, values, histories, and disciplinary perspectives.
Changing demographics, economic conditions, and weather patterns add to the challenge by presenting a moving target. Complicating matters further are the complex and seemingly contradictory messages the public receives about expected changes, especially concerning climate. This poor communication allows parties to focus on messages that align best with their views, ignoring other viewpoints.
Cohesive planning for sustained water resources with community support thus requires continual co-development of knowledge and problem solutions. Our watershed project addresses this need. Distinctive aspects include:
- Watersheds viewed as community systems
- Focus on local management
- Citizen-scientist engagement
- Participants with diverse training and backgrounds
- Ongoing learning process
- Computer simulation support tools