Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016CO318B

Investigating relationships between drought managment strategies and factors contributing to their selection in analysis of adaptive capacity of South Platte River Basin water providers

Institute: Colorado
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $4,948 Total Non-Federal Funds: $2,474

Principal Investigators: Dennis Ojima, Amber Childress-Runyon

Abstract: Social and ecological changes in Colorado – rapid population growth and increasing drought frequency and severity – have led decision-makers to realize water management strategies must change to meet future needs. A group of water managers that is at the forefront of the social and ecological changes are water providers, who serve as the link between the physical system and end users by providing water to the public, and enacting policies that make sure there is enough water to meet demand. A 2013 study by State agencies revealed that water providers felt that they were better prepared to deal with drought in 2012 than in 2002 (although they were similar droughts), suggesting that actions taken as a result of the 2002 drought increased the adaptive capacity of many water providers. However, results were aggregated by basin, so differences in their ability to cope with droughts were acknowledged, but not investigated. Through a document review, surveys, and interviews, I will analyze the extent of those differences of adaptive capacity and test the hypothesis that there is variance in adaptive strategies water providers used that can be predicted by internal and external attributes. The hypothesis will be tested by first determining the variance in their perceived adaptive capcity. I will then analyze the drought management strategies they use and if the availability of these strategies correlates to perceived adaptive capacity. I will then use fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis with institutional, environmental, and organizational attributes as predictor variables to analyze combinations of factors that contribute to the use of management strategies or lead to perceived adaptive capacities. This analysis will give us a better understanding of how well water providers can deal with drought and internal and external factors that act as barriers or opportunities for future adaptation.