Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2013MI220B

Natural Resources Integrated Information System

Institute: Michigan
Year Established: 2013 Start Date: 2013-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $27,124 Total Non-Federal Funds: $54,302

Principal Investigators: Jon Bartholic

Abstract: 10. Abstract Problem Because of the United States’ relative advantage from a water resource standpoint, this country's role will be increasingly significant in food production and industrial production requiring significant quantities of water, and in developing sustainable approaches to maintain waters’ ecological services. Specifically, the Great Lakes region will have tremendous opportunities to capitalize in numerous ways on the potential of its vast water resources. But water resources management always occurs in a social context involving multiple stakeholders. Stakeholders can have radically different perceptions of the problems and potential trade-offs associated with finding solutions because of dynamic social, economic, and political factors as well as biophysical complexities of water resources issues. This complex nature of water resource management and other related issues, such as global climate change, food production, and health care, is often referred to in the scientific community as “wicked.” Research on wicked-type problems suggests that a comprehensive knowledge system sustained by a boundary organization is essential. Since its beginning the Institute of Water Research (IWR) has been, in many ways functioning as a boundary organization. Through a history of extensive knowledge generation, engagement and facilitation, and working experience with local, state, and basin-wide organizations, IWR has a solid base of success to build upon in creating innovative knowledge systems for sustainable management of water resources. Methods IWR will act as intermediary between science and policy because we fulfill or possess: 1) specialized roles within the organization for managing the boundary; 2) clear lines of responsibility and accountability to distinct social arenas on opposite sides of the boundary; and 3) a forum in which information can be co-created by interested parties. Also, we will first utilize incentives to produce boundary objects, such as decisions or products that reflect the input of different perspectives. Second, involve participation from actors across boundaries, and Third, we will have lines of accountability to the various organizations spanned by the boundary organization. One way to further our efforts is to provide tools to assist with good decision-making using science-based data and Spatial Decision Support Systems (SDSS). SDSS are a type of computer system that combine the technologies of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), web accessibility, and DSS to assist decision-makers with problems that have spatial dimensions. Objectives (1) Reorganize IWR to more effectively link knowledge with action. (2) Actively be involved in leading, demonstrating and evaluating the co-creation process through numerous specific activities involving “wicked” problems. (3) Develop decision support systems that provide support for knowledge users to make more informed decisions based on input from the knowledge generators. (4) Guide development of this new bridging structure through an external advisory body, representing a cross-section of users and scientific groups. (5) Provide an inclusive environment to facilitate a sense of trust among the knowledge users. (6) Actively inform and partner with NGOs and other funding agencies to aid in acquiring support of IWR activities.