mon ground among various parties and to build agreements based on mutual interests. The other aspect of the program was SFWMD's iterative testing process (ITP), a progressive approach to resource management emphasizing incremental testing and evaluation of the effects of environmental regulation and active integration of ecological forces into the regulatory decision making process (Light et al., 1989).
To break the gridlock that had precluded a mutually acceptable solution, SFWMD developed an approach involving negotiation and consensus building among groups having historically disparate interests, such as environmentalists and sugarcane growers. The District found that even amidst long-standing disputes with deeply entrenched positions, small but meaningful steps toward collaborative problem solving could take place. Good-faith negotiations, in turn, unlocked doors for much bolder and meaningful strategies based on increased understanding and attention to safeguards (Light et al., 1989).
The District's commitment to ADR required expenditure of much energy on outreach and required that technical findings be made available for scrutiny by others. In the long run, this fostered greater trust and respect for the District's abilities and intentions. For example, SFWMD avoided litigation with farmers who, contending that the risk of flooding was too great, protested SFWMD's plan to modify flow patterns around Everglades National Park. Using ADR methods, the District negotiated an agreement with the farmers whereby the District operated short-term test-diversions to monitor effects on flood risk. This experience suggests that taking small steps, such as experimental testing, can pave the way for more ambitious future programs by minimizing the perceived risk to interested parties who might feel threatened by new and innovative approaches.
The District recognized that water management interventions in the Everglades over the past 80 years (for both development and environmental purposes) had been too sweeping and rigid and failed to integrate ecological processes. As a result, these decisions contributed to the degradation of the Everglades' resources. The District sought an alternative to the traditional water planning approach, which had few built-in mechanisms for remedial action. The Everglades case needed an approach to water management that fostered testing of policies and technical measures on a scale sufficient to be highly informative, while limiting environmental risks.
The District developed ITP as a new approach to water management (Light et al., 1989). The key to this new approach was incremental changes followed by systematic testing and analysis to gauge environmental responses to those