The Evolution of Water Resource Planning and Decision Making

The Evolution of Water Resource Planning and Decision Making

Edited by Clifford S. Russell and Duane D. Baumann

This broad review of the development of US water resource policy analysis and practice offers perspectives from several disciplines: law, economics, engineering, ecology and political science. The historical context provided goes back to the early 19th century, but the book concentrates on the past 60 years. A key feature is a discussion of the difficulty that has generally been encountered in bringing the disciplines of economics and ecology into collaboration in the water resource context.

Chapter 6: Political Decision Making: Real Decisions in Real Political Contexts

Peter Rogers, Lawrence MacDonnell and Peter Lydon

Subjects: environment, water


Peter Rogers, Lawrence MacDonnell and Peter Lydon INTRODUCTION The problems posed by having to make explicit choices about the environment, something governments now have to do, have pointed up the weakness of modern government. So long as the problems faced by governments could be defined as technical problems, then they could be passed along to experts and the solutions arrived at by a nonpolitical or covertly political process. But environmental problems quickly became value judgment problems. Moreover, they obviously require governmental action. (Haefele, 1973, p. 15) There seems to be great misunderstanding of what the concept of governance encompasses. In the eyes of many technical persons (engineers, economists and development planners, for example) governance is just about laws, regulations and institutions, typically exogenously given. The common belief is that there is an ideal set of laws, regulations and institutions that will result in good governance of water resources regardless of what else is happening in the country. Practical experiences, however, are quite different. In many settings apparently rational laws and regulations and appropriate institutional frameworks are in place, but the actual performance is nonetheless not good. Practical observers will note that unless textbook laws, institutions and regulations are based on a working political system, they cannot function as intended. In particular, one cannot consider a system of resource governance independent of the political system that is its framework, source and operating context. For an understanding of water governance, then, what is needed is an examination of the full interaction among...

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