State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2009MI137B
Title: Community Capacity and Use of Groundwater Information: Social Networks, Coalitions, Abilities, and Stratification in Use of the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool
Project Type: Education
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: 8th
Focus Categories: Water Use, Education, Law, Institutions, and Policy
Keywords: Social Networks, Community Capacity, Water Withdrawal Assessment, Ground-water Flow and Transport, Water Quality, Biological Sciences, Engineering, or Climate and Hydrologic Processes
Principal Investigator: Gasteyer, Stephen
Federal Funds: $ 15,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 33,492
Abstract: In response to increasing concern about water conservation and the ecological integrity of the Great Lakes, new tools have been developed to improve wise use and management of all water resources in Michigan. Michigan's new water use law utilizes new products for estimating water availability and the impacts of use like the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT) to provide the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and local actors and entities with the necessary information for improved management. Questions remain, however, about the social conditions under which WWAT and other tools are most likely to be effective in improving management. Further, the water use law calls for the development of a water users' committee to determine how to resolve cases where water use is estimated to result in "adverse resource impacts." How might we expect these committees to function? How might networks, relationships and coalitions impact the ability of these committees to improve management?

This research project will use a combination of participant observation, group interviews, survey, and community case studies to document how WWAT contributes to the level of knowledge and management ability (human capital), the application of financial capital and built capital (infrastructure) and the role of social networks and coalitions (social capital) in adopting and utilizing available tools in water management. In particular, the selection of case study sites will be targeted toward places that can illuminate the problematics of water users' committees. Site visits, face-to-face interviews and telephone interviews will be carried out with key actors to determine underlying values, interests, coalitions and networks that will impact water-use decision-making. The survey may oversample water users in these areas as well to provide an additional point of reference.

The objectives of this project are two-fold: 1) To provide guidance regarding under what conditions water resources management decision making tools are most likely to be utilized to improve water management; 2) To provide guidance about the conditions and factors that will influence the functioning of water users' committees, and what combination of information tools, technical assistance and other mechanisms are likely to positively impact the decision-making ability of these entities.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF

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