Western Water Institutional Solutions: Identification, Development, and Application of Institutional Solutions for Western Water Problems
The Western Water Institutional Solutions project sought to understand the genesis of water conflict in the Western United States and then, based on lessons learned, prepare a training course for Reclamation employees to help them prevent and manage it. In the early stages, the project conducted focus groups in Reclamation area offices. Most of the cited causes of water conflict were related to change (in policy, in law, in budgeting, in administrative priorities, in climate, etc.), the differences among scientists, and to the mission, legal, and policy requirements and priorities that various institutions and stakeholders were bound to.
Subsequent case studies and analyses of cooperative and conflictive media events found that when social, economic, bio-physical, or political change outpaces the institutional capacity to manage it, conflict is likely to occur. In addition, over time, the frequency curve of events scaled from cooperative to conflictive showed a normal distribution.
In the final phase of this project, training modules were developed based upon what had been learned in the prior research efforts. These training courses, tailored for Reclamation employees, but especially for water managers, focused upon how to move the management of conflict from an entrenched discussion about rights to an earnest discussion about the allocation of needs and benefits throughout the entire water basin under discussion. The final goal was to develop new systems of governance amongst the constituencies capable of allocating these benefits in an equitable fashion. In the process a set of collaborative skills was taught that included active listening, joint fact-finding, management of public meetings, and the like.
Natural Resources, Oregon State University
Upper Colorado Regional Office, Upper Colorado Region
Independent Peer Review
The following documents were reviewed by qualified Bureau of Reclamation employees. The findings were determined to be achieved using valid means.
Institutional Solutions for Water Resource Conflicts, a Forum for Reclamation Managers: Workshop Summaryu (final, PDF,
By Douglas Clark
Report completed on February 27, 2008
The WWIS Network Collaboration: An Analysis of the Social, Economic, and Biophysical Environments Supportive of and the Historic Trends in Conflict and Cooperation in the Bureau of Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Region 1970-2005 (final, PDF,
By Mr. Nathan Eidem
Report completed on August 12, 2008
Bureau of Reclamation Review
The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.
Water Conflicts in the Upper Colorado Region - Phase I (final, PDF,
By Beth Murphy
Report completed on February 16, 2005
Focus Groups on Water Conflict and Collaboration, Upper Colorado Region, September 2006 (final, PDF,
By Douglas Clark, Dennis Kubly and Amy Cutler
Report completed on May 16, 2008
Institutional Solutions for Water Resources Conflicts, A Forum for Reclamation Managers, Workshop Survey Summary (final, PDF,
By Douglas Clark and Dennis Kubly
Report completed on May 20, 2011
This information was last updated on December 9, 2013
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