3rd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Rachel Pawlitz
Session Name Posters - Governance Approaches to Nutrient Management
Category Governance approaches to nutrient management
Poster Number 12
Author(s) Rachel Pawlitz,  University of Florida (Presenting Author)
  Beyond Uncertainty: Designing Tools for Adaptive Water Governance
  It is widely believed that the "water crisis" requires new, adaptive governance tools to help balance competing human and environmental water uses. Adaptive approaches are thought to be a means to embrace uncertainty and learn by doing through an iterative policy process. This ethnographic study looked at the relationship between political uncertainty and hydrologic uncertainty in the twenty year conflict over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) basin. Political "uncertainty" stemmed from legalistic interpretations, meta-discourses about the "interests" of the basin. Models perpetuated those meta-discourses and fed into polarized narratives about the goals of water management. Both policy analysis tools and governance institutions fueled this tendency by simplifying trade-offs and black-boxing assumptions about how technical information would be used to make decisions. The findings suggest that water governance requires more transparent decision metrics and models that can be designed with stakeholders' full array of interests in mind. This begins with a careful definition of stakeholders, and requires reducing the policy problem into parameters that are recognizeable to stakeholders as explicitly related to their concerns. Finally, stakeholders must have access to governance institutions that provide an equitable, participatory forum for agreeing on a shared ethic for balancing multiple tradeoffs and concerns.