Friday, April 27, 2012

AM in the Murray Basin

The Murray River is part of the largest river basin in Australia. I just had the pleasure of meeting Dr John Conallin from the Murray Catchment Management Authority. His job is implementing an "evidence based process" for allocating environmental water. He built his process on the ideas of Adaptive Governance and "Strategic Adaptive Management" (which looks like Experimental Resilience AM to me). We had a great discussion this morning comparing the situation on the Murray with the Platte and Missouri Rivers, trying to figure out why they were able to (apparently) get to experimental pulse flows in an experimental approach, while things have struggled to get off the ground here. One key observation is that the CMA is essentially funded to act as a boundary organization, handling the transaction costs of creating a collaborative, participatory process. It's as if the USFWS had started the process on the Central Platte by setting up the Platte River Recovery Program, and then had the program run the negotiation process itself. Instead, there were years of difficult multi-lateral negotiations among all the stakeholders that lead to the Program document.
His last comment was that we need to do comparative studies of AM cases. I couldn't agree more.

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