Use of PGIS in Water Resources Planning: Evolution from a State of Idaho Experiment to a Multi-State Approach in the Conjunctive Administration of Surface and Ground Water

David Tuthill, Piotr Jankowski, Timothy Nyerges, and Steve Robischon 

Paper presented at 2nd Annual Public Participation GIS Conference, July 20-22, 2003, at Portland , OR

The spatial nature of water resources and the increasing role of public input in the administration of limited water supplies in the western United States encourage integration of GIS in decision making. One forum for this process is the conjunctive administration of ground water and surface water, whereby interactions between water sources are quantified and regulated. Typically conjunctive administration is court-initiated. In contrast, an innovative stakeholder-first approach to preempt conjunctive administration conflicts was developed for the Boise River basin in the State of Idaho. This approach is based on gathering resource administration recommendations from stakeholders, followed with review by technical and legal experts. A two-session PGIS (participatory GIS) experiment was conducted to test this approach. Each session had a control group and a test group. The control group used group-shared GIS information and group discussions to form recommendations. The test group used the same information, but also included use of individual computers for data analysis and voting. The first session was conducted in May 2001 and the second session, using more advanced software and more detailed technical information, was conducted in September 2002. Each session was followed by technical and legal reviews. The stakeholders and situation were real-world. The experiment validated the stakeholder-first approach and resulted in positive steps toward resolution of water management problems. This paper presents the problem and the results of the stakeholder-first approach. Based on the success of this approach, it is being adapted for a more complex situation encountered in a multi-state basin. Challenges with regard to the more complex situation are discussed. This paper should be relevant to anyone interested in using PGIS for administration of natural resources.

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