There’s a tendency, when confronted with water problems, to try to specify solutions: If only we’d junk those golf courses and stop watering our damn lawns so much! Why are we wasting our precious water growing alfalfa in the desert! We must reduce exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta! Water markets!
In a post last week, veteran Kansas water manager Wayne Bossert had a great summary of a talk by Bill Blomquist (student of and collaborator with the late Elinor Ostrom) that lists eight characteristics of successful efforts to share common pool resources. Notice that, rather that banning golf, this is about putting in place the institutional framework so folks can come up with workable and sustainable solutions (including, if they so desire, the decision to ban golf). As a water numbers nerd, my particular favorite is number 2:
Shared information. All the participants must be able to understand, transfer and communicate data, goals, interests, current use levels and all the other parameters needed for understanding the situation.
But if you’re in the midst of a tangled water policy/politics battle, the entire list is essential reading. How many item’s on Wayne’s list does your current water process have? If you don’t have ’em, it’s unlikely that you’re going to succeed at this, I fear.