The Walla Walla Way: Reevaluating the Role of State and Local Stakeholders in an Integrated Water Resource Management Approach

H. Paulsen (USA)


Integrated Water Resource Management Washington Water Law Instream Flows


Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) has been touted as an innovative solution to water management problems, and yet it lacks a clear definition or executable framework. IWRM is best understood by examining how it has been conceptualized and successfully implemented in watersheds throughout the world. Case examples serve as tangible models that can inform the efforts of water managers as they seek to coordinate diverse conservation efforts and balance competing demands placed on depleted water supplies. This paper presents a case study of a water management initiative in the Walla Walla watershed that seeks to integrate the interests and resources of the state with the needs of local entities to better manage water resources. Traditional approaches to water resource management under Washington water law have divided citizens and created an adversarial relationship between water users and the government agencies that regulate them. This paper outlines the problems posed by Washington water law as it currently exists, explains the problems that have emerged in the Walla Walla watershed under this system, and discusses state and local initiatives that have the potential to resolve these problems and revise water law and water management in the state consistent with IWRM principles.

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