An exploration of Bureau of Reclamation approaches for managing conflict over diverging science

Technical Memorandum 86-68211-09-01
By: , and 



As a major institutional agent supplying Western water resources, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) provides important leadership, technical, and financial resources in water management, serving as the West's "water broker" (Bowersox 2000; Pisani 2003). In recent years, growing numbers of constituencies using water and the over-allocation of water resources have contributed to conflict over the resource in the American West (National Research Council 2004). Although the conflicts arise from many sources, one common theme is that Reclamation managers often must make decisions about water use and allocation when scientific studies provide uncertain or competing recommendations. We conducted a preliminary study of Reclamation water managers and water scientists to try to understand the approaches or techniques they use or consider useful for dealing with scientific conflicts over water allocation and how these compare to techniques found in the relevant literature.

We report the results of (1) an electronic survey of Reclamation senior managers and (2) a panel discussion amongst Reclamation senior managers as to the current institutional capabilities for managing diverging scientific findings in water dispute resolution processes. We conclude with a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the different tools and techniques managers reported in the survey and in the panel discussion.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title An exploration of Bureau of Reclamation approaches for managing conflict over diverging science
Series title Technical Memorandum
Series number 86-68211-09-01
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher Bureau of Reclamation
Publisher location Denver, CO
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 19 p.
Conference Title Institutional Solutions for Water Resource Conflicts Workshop
Conference Location Salt Lake City, UT
Conference Date September 24-27, 2007
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