Saturday, February 6, 2010

One Reason Why Groundwater is So Hard to Manage

I have long felt that the success to our local groundwater management efforts would rise or fall with our ability to translate the pulse of the people into groundwater policy.  If we created an effective enough public discourse process, then the district could move forward whatever majority positions were expressed. 

One annual meeting many years ago (early in my career) I set out to test my hypothesis.  There were 109 folks at this meeting and I had a single question survey that I asked them to complete.  The question something to the effect of:  "If the board were to stabilize the water table, at what percentage of current remaining saturated thickness should this be done?"  The choices, one of which each person was to circle, were listed across the page under the question and consisted of:  0%;  10%;  20%;  30%;  40%;  50%;  60%;  70%;  80%;  90%;  100%.

I was expecting a fairly nice bell curve probably centered around the 60% or 70% choice.  Boy was I surprised.  It was a flat-line graph with virtually equal responses for every choice.  So much for having any kind of consensus - at least on the issue of how much water we should retain. 

There were only about 75 responses, so it's not like the survey was scientifically valid, but it was an eye-opener.  Bottom line is everyone has their own ideas of what should be done, how, when and why it should be done, and who should be doing it.  Maybe a weighted, super-matrix approach...

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