This chapter focuses on the topic of integrated water and environmental management, and linkages between scientific research and policy analysis. The Water Institute has not emphasized its role in science-policy analysis, but insofar as it conducts strategic research that is part of a science-policy process, it will benefit by analyzing the policy context of its work, and along with other participants, help shape science-policy research.
Policy analysis is an established, specialized field of water and environmental research, as is science-policy analysis that rigorously examines the roles and uses of science in policy analysis, and the design and performance of science-policy experiments (as in adaptive management discussed in chapter 3) (Chenoweth, 2012). Previous approaches to IWRM in the United States and internationally are relevant to policy analysis, as is research that builds upon Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan. Science-policy research topics discussed in this chapter are (1) Research Components of IWRM: An Example from the Netherlands, which includes full system description, computational framework, and governance; and (2) Science-Policy Research for Master Planning in Louisiana, which includes policy analysis; collaborative modeling, citizen science, and decision support systems.
As explained in Chapter 1, Integrated Water Resource Management strives to view and manage water systems from a comprehensive point of view. This section offers a perspective on the use of IWRM in the
Netherlands. The Dutch experience may be relevant to the Water Institute given the latter’s intent to employ IWRM concepts, and the lengthy and sophisticated experience in the Netherlands in implementing this multidisciplinary concept.
The ongoing “Delta Programme” encompasses three broad components of water systems in the Netherlands: )1) the natural resource system (NRS), (2) socioeconomic systems (SES), and (3) administrative and institutional systems (AIS). When considering these components in an integrated manner, Dutch planners and decision makers seek to support socioeconomic development of the region, particularly navigation and agriculture, to provide flood protection, and to improve environmental quality.
Although IWRM strives to deal with all water issues in an integrated way, this is not completely followed in the Netherlands. The prime goals of the Netherlands Delta Programme are flood control and drought management. Water quality and ecology are more fully addressed under the regional European Water Framework Directive. Both programs evaluate projects from an integrated perspective that considers impacts across programs. The Netherlands experience with IWRM underscores the following components that are elaborated below:
• Description of the full system, including physical, socioeconomic, and institutional processes (NRS, SES, and AIS) and interactions among them.
• A computational framework of models and databases that represent knowledge of the system and enables quantification of impacts from proposed actions.
• A governance system that involves close cooperation among stakeholders, scientists, and decision makers.
Full System Description
Integrated water resources management practices in the Netherlands entails full assessment of human and environmental systems, which includes description of the following:
• Natural resources systems (NRS)—environmental processes, development alternatives, and potential impacts
• Socioeconomic systems (SES)—water uses and their economic value, water demand, economic trends, and planned developments
• Administrative and institutional systems (AIS)—stakeholders and their interests in the water systems, governance structures, and legal setting
• Interlinkages among these components and benefits from improved water management
• Development of scenarios that capture external uncertainties that might have an impact on the system (e.g., climate change, demographic trends, and soci-economic development; see Figure 4-1).
For the lower Mississippi River, an assessment of this sort ideally would cover the entire delta region, and hence would include urban and rural areas, navigation, and industrial development. From the Netherlands perspective, it would also ideally be coordinated with IWRM at the basinwide and national water policy scales.
A computational framework in the Dutch context to support integrated water management includes models and databases that describe various components of the system, in particular the natural resources and socioeconomic systems (often described as a decision support system). The computational framework in integrated water management often differs from models used by environmental scientists and water managers, particularly with respect to the role of models (e.g., for interactive communication as well as scientific explanation and simulation). Figure 4-2 illustrates the development of the “delta model” used in the Netherlands.
The computational framework for IWRM analysis is a consensus-building model. Users need to trust the models and input data. Certain components may originate from or be developed with stakeholders (e.g., the socioeconomic system models). As full models are complicated and computationally heavy, simpler models are developed to produce reliable results for IWRM planning purposes, while recommendations are checked with full models.
Governance in Integrated Water Management
Governance is part of the full system description discussed above, and it is an essential component of IWRM (GWP, 2008). Governance research has been a major focus of international water management research over the past decade, shaped in Europe by the Water Framework Directive (Reinhard and Folmer, 2009; Timmerman et al., 2008). Recent Dutch studies of U.S. shorefront and flood hazards management have also compared governance approaches (Rijkswaterstaat, 2005; Wesselink, 2007). Gover-
nance research was identified as an unmet research need for the Mississippi River delta in the Delta Alliance’s comparative study (Bucks et al., 2010).
According to the Global Water Partnership (GWP, 2008, pp. 8-9), the main roles and functions of water governance are to
• “ensure that water resources can provide the range of water products and services required for social and economic development and environmental sustainability; • mitigate or adapt to externalities that include water-related hazards, waterborne diseases, pollution, and other effects that particular water uses and users can impose on others within a physically independent water and land system;
• allocate water resources and services, along with the associated financial and human capital, in an efficient, equitable and environmentally sustainable manner.”
The roles of governance in deltas are particularly important because of their environmental complexities, resource uses, and trade-offs (GWP, 2003, 2008). Governance systems ideally involve the full array of stakeholders in decision making, and provide ready access to scientific information used in decision making (GWP, 2008). Successful implementation of plans is possible when there is sufficient consensus among the stakeholders.
Pathway Analysis in IWRM
The Dutch Delta Programme uses an adaptive approach to meet safety and socioeconomic targets, while remaining flexible as to how and when to implement management interventions. One challenge is to make this adaptive approach operational, and the novel approach adopted in the Netherlands involves adaptation pathway analysis as an alternative to traditional “end-point” scenarios.
This approach identifies thresholds to indicate when a policy starts to perform unacceptably, and what alternative adaptation pathways and policy actions are available to achieve social and environmental objectives (Figure 4-3). The illustrative scorecard in Figure 4-3 displays nine climate adaptation pathways (Haasnoot et al., 2013). The scorecard shows that the Current Policy fails to meet its targets after 4 years, at which point there are four alternative actions A through D. Actions A and D achieve their targets for the next 100 years under all climate scenarios. If Action B is chosen, by comparison, a threshold (“tipping point”) is reached within about 5 years, at which point a shift is needed to one of the three other options. This type of dynamic pathway analysis is helping make adaptive delta management operational in the Netherlands.
The Dutch situation and experience are often cited as an analogue for storm protection activities and structure for Louisiana and the U.S. Gulf Coast. Dutch experts have been consulted frequently about strategies to address problems such as storm hazards, land loss, and socioeconomic stresses in Louisiana and elsewhere. The Dutch approach to delta management has been built around construction of massive coastal defenses (dikes) at the outer perimeter, with large floodgates and locks controlling the aquatic environments within this perimeter. Although there may be much to be emulated in that nation’s systematic approach to planning and design, there are some significant contrasts with coastal Louisiana.
First, the Netherlands lies on a stable geological foundation; rates of subsidence are much lower than in coastal Louisiana. Dikes sink slowly not only because of low rates of regional subsidence but also because underlying sediments are not readily compressed. Further, maximum storm surges caused by tropical cyclones that affect the Louisiana coast exceed those caused by North Sea winter storms that threaten the Netherlands.
For centuries the Dutch have been reclaiming land from the sea primarily for human settlement and not some other purpose (e.g., ecosystem restoration). A large portion of the densely populated Netherlands thus is at risk from river flooding or storm surges. National policies and budgets reflect delta protection as a dominant national priority. This degree of national-level priority is not likely to apply to the Mississippi River delta, its many values to local residents notwithstanding. Despite national attention devoted to the Gulf coastline, national and state policy appears to have established that the costs (financial and environmental) of a “Dutch solution” are not justified across all of Louisiana, which has a coastline three times as long as that of the Netherlands. Instead, for areas of dispersed human settlement there is increased interest (as reflected in the recent Master Plan) in reducing exposure and vulnerability through actions such as elevated buildings, and managed retreat as addressed in part in the Louisiana 2012 Coastal Master Plan.
• There is a growing body of international research on science-policy studies of deltaic vulnerability and sustainability. At the same time, there are expanding opportunities for rigorous comparative research on science-policy programs in other regions, such as the Netherlands, for integrated water and environmental management in the Mississippi River delta.
Building on the Louisiana 2012 Coastal Master Plan
Notwithstanding these differences between the Netherlands and the Mississippi delta, there is much to learn from Dutch and other international experience. The likelihood of a major new infusion of funding for river diversions, barrier island restoration, and managed retreat may soon be on a scale analogous to coastal investment in the Netherlands.1 In its own way, Louisiana represents a unique-in-the world learning opportunity for science-policy research that contributes to planning, designing, evaluating, and integrating “soft” and “hard” engineering interventions at the coastal margins. Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan is the core policy document for such research.
Research on Interactions among Multiple Projects
The Louisiana 2012 Coastal Master Plan evaluated hundreds of projects of different types, and it acknowledges that it did a limited analysis of “multiple projects at the same time to see how the projects within the master plan interacted” (CPRA, 2012, p. 89). Interactions among multiple projects entail interesting and important scientific research issues, including the following:
• Interactions between structural projects and nonstructural programs
• Synergies, complementarities, overlaps, and conflicts
• Unexpected consequences, either positive or negative
• Relative benefits of a large-scale centralized project compared with a distributed set of small-scale projects
• Relationships between strategic and tactical measures for hazards mitigation
There is thus an excellent opportunity for the Water Institute and others to build a research program around the multiple types of interaction effects among delta projects and policies.
• There is an excellent opportunity for the Water Institute to build a research program around multiple interacting types of restoration projects and policies.
• There are also near- and medium-term research opportunities on the integration of storm protection structures with delta restoration projects that emphasize natural or green infrastructure. This inte-
1 In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, tens of billions of dollars were directed to organizations such as the National Fish and Wildlife Federation (NFWF) for the express purpose of Gulf of Mexico ecological restoration. Some of these monies are likely to be used for restoration activities in the lower Mississippi River delta.
grated approach to research could encompass and contribute to the objectives of a vigorous energy and marine transportation economy, storm risk reduction, commercial fisheries, recreational opportunities, and a healthy coastal ecosystem.
Research on Science-Policy “Decision Points” in the Master Plan
The Master Plan identified nine “decision points” based on a combination of science, policy, and public input, stating that it accomplished the following:
1. “Maximized community flood risk reduction and land building.
2. Assumed a $50 billion budget for planning purposes.
3. Used a balanced allocation of protection and restoration funds, taking into account that many restoration projects also serve to reduce flooding risk.
4. Divided investment equally between near- and long-term benefits.
5. Chose projects that are more robust should future coastal conditions track the less optimistic scenario.
6. Ensured that positive and negative effects of projects on ecosystem services were balanced and that negative effects are not significantly detrimental coast wide.
7. Focused marsh creation efforts on critical landforms, or key landscape features that provide both land building and storm surge reduction.
8. Incorporated projects in the master plan based on a realistic review of the limits of the analysis, implementation challenges, and variations in methods.
9. Adjusted projects based on local knowledge and stakeholder input where appropriate. The changes were principled responses to the feedback we received, grounded in science, and responsive to the needs of our coastal communities.”
This is an important yet diverse mix of decisions, based on what the Master Plan describes as “reality checks” (CPRA, 2012, p. 108). These types of complex decision problems present opportunities to conduct research that builds upon them, and can help clarify the relationships among them. Some promising approaches are described below.
From Expert Driven Planning to Collaborative Decision Making
The Louisiana 2012 Coastal Master Plan process identified multiple objectives for the Gulf coast and then evaluated how combinations of investment and policy alternatives could meet those objectives over time. The
resulting plan reflects tradeoffs among objectives. In this sense the Master Plan is an impressive example of integrated water planning for the benefit of agency decision making. In addition, the planning process, which involved extensive outreach, was also likely useful for gaining public understanding and support, and the Master Plan process engaged stakeholders through public hearings and workshop discussions. However, there were claims that stakeholders were not always fully engaged in the analytical modeling that led to the recommendations in the plan. Further, some principal users of the coast (e.g. marine transport and energy extraction) may not have engaged as actively as others in the Master Plan development process.
Conflicts among stakeholders over acceptable tradeoffs and preferred alternatives are to be expected in any planning process. These conflicts can be categorized as analytical disagreements (analytical conflict), in the way that benefits and costs are distributed (interest conflict), and in disagreements over the highest and best use for coastal resources (value conflict; see NRC, 2011b).
A substantive stakeholder engagement process that integrates technical analysis with stakeholder participation can inform and moderate such conflicts and negotiate agreements (Islam and Susskind, 2012). The purpose of a substantive engagement process can be limited to reaching agreement on the “facts of a situation” (joint fact finding) in order to reduce analytical conflict. Analytical conflict might be resolved, but a more ambitious purpose of engagement is to reach agreement about acceptable tradeoffs, as well as economic and environmental mitigation, in order to reduce value and interest conflict. The more ambitious purpose will be advanced if stakeholders are engaged in modeling of the system.
Whatever the source of conflict, the purpose of modeling is to make predictions of the consequences for the stakeholders’ values and interests if a certain investment or policy is implemented. The credibility and acceptability of the predictions is advanced if the model platforms themselves have credibility and accessibility, and are not seen as “black boxes.” Ideally, predictions are made through technical models that are vetted, and perhaps developed with stakeholder participation. This has been termed “collaborative modeling,” “shared vision planning,” “computer aided dispute resolution,” and “computer aided negotiation.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has extensive experience in developing and applying the “shared vision planning” model, and has worked with stakeholder groups on many national and international water management issues, including the U.S. Great Lakes and Colorado River Basin (USACE, 2013b). The State of Louisiana worked with RAND in the use of decision-support modeling in the preparation of the state’s 2012 Master Plan (Groves et al., 2013).
The case for substantive stakeholder and multiagency engagement in planning and decision making is well documented, as are the limits such
involvement can place on expeditious decision making. Therefore, the focus of the engagement needs to be carefully considered. The focus can be narrow. For example, the focus can be on a single user group such as the marine transportation sector, on a particular location (a region or a community), or on a single project such as a diversion at a specific location. Also, the focus may be on a single question, such as the effect of nutrient concentrations on marsh habitat, or the effect of increased flood insurance premiums on location and retreat decisions for households. Alternatively, the focus may be on the broadest scale—the system—and thus inclusive of multiple purposes, multiple locations, and multiple projects.
Because of the large spatial scale, complexity, and long time horizon for planning and implementation, there may be successive rounds of planning as new projects and policies are advanced for consideration. This progression of planning offers opportunities to engage stakeholders in collaborative exercises, such as joint fact finding. Environmental design charrettes (intensive 1-day methods for generating design alternatives) and studios are also used to involve stakeholders in scenario generation and analysis in ways that can creatively expand the range of choice (Delta Alliance, 2010; Deltares, 2011b). Ideally, projects and policies will be evaluated through a system analysis that draws on (1) a baseline assessment, (2) knowledge gained from previous investments and (3) is open to benefiting from local knowledge.
Beyond joint fact finding, effective stakeholder engagement and resolution of all sources of conflict entails system modeling that is transparent to all decision makers. As in the Dutch context, such models will be of coarse resolution but will draw upon models of finer spatial and temporal scales for construction. They will be simple but not simplistic, in that they facilitate choices about general project designs, locations, and operations, rather than day-to-day operations or design refinements. They will be empirical, but where there are significant uncertainties in data or in relationships among variables in the model, characterization of the uncertainty and how it affects the results would be necessary.
Advanced analytic methods could help illustrate and analyze trade-offs among various water and related environmental uses. In turn, water users and decision makers may be able to use this information to promote better integration across related water sectors.
• The Water Institute would have an excellent opportunity to promote, and lead, more advanced scientific stakeholder engagement in joint fact finding and modeling processes. A strong contribution to research on negotiation and collaborative modeling would entail some level of commitment by the Water Institute to develop the
required professional skills to create and lead collaborative modeling procedures.
Citizen Science with Innovations in Information and Communications Technology
Citizen science conducted with modern telecommunications technologies can enhance socioenvironmental research. Citizen science involves participation and collaboration of members of the general public in scientific research, most often as unpaid volunteers. Such participatory efforts are designed to engage and educate the public about local and regional scientific issues. Designing collaborative ventures that engage members of the public to facilitate monitoring programs could be a useful function for the Water Institute. The Water Institute could take a leadership role in development of these types of digital information technology and management for the delta region. They could guide development of databases or technological tools that stimulate, advance, and empower citizen science efforts locally, regionally, and globally. Widespread availability of GPS-enabled smart-phones allows citizens to provide georeferenced ecological data that could be valuable in filling in data gaps. Potential avenues of citizen-engagement at the Water Institute could include cross-Louisiana coastal community descriptions, water quality, and/or fishery catch “apps” to facilitate ecologically relevant data collection in the delta region; development of digital tools for tracking coastal erosion, marine debris and hazards; and coastal emergency response planning and relief (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2013). These efforts could promote scientific advancement, establish the Water Institute as a partner in local science efforts, and promote its reputation among Delta populations. Myriad social technology inventions, prototypes, and experiments are under way that can be screened by organizations devoted to this field (e.g., MIT Humanitarian Logistics, 2013).
• The design of collaborative ventures that mobilize members of the public to facilitate monitoring programs is another research opportunity for the Water Institute. Part of this effort could include a leadership role for the Water Institute in developing digital information technology and management for the lower Mississippi River Delta.
• Hosting of international citizen-science workshops could also help identify innovations in other deltas that have relevance for the lower Mississippi, and ultimately help transfer knowledge to those regions.
Decision Support Systems
Deltas are a complex “system of systems” characterized by interdependencies among systems of water resources, ecological habitats, infrastructure, energy, agriculture, and urban settlement. The Master Plan describes its planning tool as a decision support system (DSS). It helped integrate science, policy, and public input both to screen projects and to arrive at decision points. This chapter has surveyed a broad range of methods for supporting decision making, from IWRM in the Netherlands to research on Master Planning in Louisiana. The latter encompasses science-policy analyses, collaborative modeling, citizen-science, and new technologies. Taken together, this broad spectrum of approaches suggests a coordinated approach to DSS tools to help advance integrated water and environmental management in large deltaic regions.
One aim of a DSS is to bring science into decision making so as to develop a high-level understanding of science-policy relationships. Numerous models have been developed and validated for the delta by academic and consulting communities. Challenges exist for enhancing the appropriate use of multiple models in decision making. Another principle of DSS development is to involve practitioners and stakeholders from the early stages of data collection and model development.
In addition to qualitative methods of social inquiry, it is important to continue to develop quantitative social science models for demographic, socioeconomic, and equity analyses. Social research can shed light on decision behavior and behavior change, decision making under uncertainty, intertemporal preferences, consensus-building, and barriers and pathways to risk reduction. The current situation is characterized by a broad range of partial approaches to DSS in the Mississippi River delta, as in other deltas of the world. IWRM in the Netherlands presents one model for coordinating these tools.
• Development of decision support system applications represents another science-policy research opportunity. This work could initially help support restoration project implementation, encourage integration of structural and nonstructural water and environmental management alternatives, and encourage participatory stakeholder and citizen-science programs.
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