The Evolution of Water Resource Planning and Decision Making
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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.
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Chapter 1: Water Resources Planning: Past, Present and Future

John J. Boland and Duane Baumann


John J. Boland and Duane Baumann INTRODUCTION The chapters that follow describe, from a number of perspectives, the current state of play in the field of water resources planning and management with a heavy emphasis on the United States’s experience. In reading this material, it will be helpful to recall that today’s planners and managers face very different problems from those of even a few decades ago. Before the middle of the twentieth century, water resources decisions were seen primarily as a matter of finding ways to use the resource to its utmost – to unlock its potential for providing marketable goods and services to human society, even if the results were not always marketed, as recreation typically was not. Water resources planning, in that period, was primarily the province of engineers, with occasional inputs from economists.1 As this book makes clear, water resources planning and management is a dramatically different enterprise today. Several of the chapters reflect on specific reasons for this difference, but it may be helpful to highlight here three distinct, but interrelated, areas of change that have affected water resources decision making during the past half-century. ● ● Evolution of demands – Society has changed greatly in 50 years. One major change has been a rising affluence in almost all parts of the economy. Combined with a near doubling of the population since 1950, this has produced very large increases in the use of water resources for recreation, expanded human settlements near formerly pristine lakes and rivers and in flood...

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