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Managing Water Resources

Published: August 07, 2012

CHENEY, Wash. - Competing users and interest groups have varying, and often contentious, opinions on how water resources should be managed in the Intermountain Province (IMP) of the Columbia River Basin. The divisive issue is examined in the latest, and biggest, monograph released by Eastern Washington University's Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis.

Operating under the premise that water is the lifeline of this region and plays an important role in the sustenance of life and development of the Pacific Northwest, the study was conducted by EWU Associate Professor of Government Vandana Asthana, who has addressed important water issues on a global scale.

Because of the volume of issues and stakeholders, the scope of the monograph only focused on the northeast corner of the state of Washington. It included in-depth interviews with affected tribes, environmental groups, utilities, state agencies, local government, non-profit organizations and other stakeholders involved in the management and use of these resources.

"Water management decisions affect people throughout the Columbia River Basin," said Patrick Jones, executive director of the institute. "However, there are many different ideas on how water resources should be managed - a process complicated by the incredible amount of overlapping responsibilities at all levels of government."

Jones points out many experts believe water is the new energy issue, and the monograph does a great job of making one wonder if we can meet the difficult challenge of managing that resource.

"It will take great teamwork because this is such a controversial and muddled topic," added Jones, who points to the challenge of serving hydropower, flood control, navigation, irrigation and fishery needs while juggling the interests of municipalities, environmental groups and recreation users.

Weaving other key issues into the debate, the monograph also reveals how stakeholders feel about the impact of climate change, their frustrations over the decision-making process and the desire to put aside political boundaries - and politics - in hopes of taking risks to find a sustainable management solution that could have positive economic ramifications.

The institute utilizes the expertise of EWU faculty to sponsor research in social, economic and public policy questions to the Inland Northwest. It also conducts contract research for various organizations and governmental agencies around the region.

For more information, please contact Patrick Jones, the executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at 509.828.1246 or dpjones@ewu.edu.

 

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