MRG Futures Project
Enhancing Water Awareness, Stewardship and Responsibility
The Water Assembly is conducting a "Futures Project" whose long term goal is to raise significantly the awareness and sense of responsibility for our water resources among the general public and hence the official decision makers.
Seven years have passed since the Middle Rio Grande Regional Water Plan for Sandoval, Bernalillo and Valencia Counties was accepted. It reported the region's substantial annual deficit consumption of water relative to its renewable supply. We currently lack an adequate means of assessing how well the Plan has been implemented or of measuring its success against its mission to balance use with renewable supply.
To create a sense of stewardship and responsibility for these issues, the Water Assembly is embarking on a campaign to increase public awareness, dialogue and engagement with local officials. The campaign is intended to encourage water management entities in the region to adopt water accounting mechanisms to measure how well they are meeting specific targets, in accordance with strategies outlined in the Plan, and to report on their accomplishments and shortfalls to each other and to the public.
As an overview, we see the Futures Project partially emulating the South Africa "Mont Fleur" process that stimulated extensive public involvement leading to the development of their constitution. We envision our project taking place in four phases:
Phase One - A Baseline Description: Develop in 2009-2010 a credible, graphic description of the region in 2025, assuming that current implementation efforts and rates of progress continue, but that no new or enhanced interventions (technical, managerial, or institutional) are undertaken.
Phase One Results - The Water Assembly gathered a multi-disciplinary expert team to implement Phase One. The expert team developed a 2025 retrospective story. That story describes one plausible scenario of how the experts think the Region's future might look, assuming no new policy changes. While this baseline future story is, of course, fictional, it was based upon the team members' analysis papers in their respective fields. The story and experts' analyses were presented at the 14th Annual Water Assembly.
Phase Two - Alternative Scenarios: Develop a several alternative visions of the region in 2025, describing futures that might occur based upon plausible variations in the externally imposed environments or our human caused behaviors. We gathered local leaders representing a broad spectrum of stakeholder perspectives as well as those folks whose primary interests are in water to start to identify attributes of different future scenarios. They tackled this task at the 15th Annual Water Assembly on November 5, 2011. The next step is to flesh out their notes into plausible prose scenario descriptions.
Phase Three - How We Got There: Identify and explore the plausible kinds of events, actions or interventions that could lead to each of the futures that came out of the Phase II activities. The draft scenarios will form the basis for that exploration and evaluation. The present plan is to address this Phase III through a Town Hall ike event in the 2012 time frame.
Phase Four - Publicity Campaign: Bring the baseline description and the alternative vision stories out to the general public to stimulate vigorous debate leading decision makers to establish well informed policies relating to water stewardship and associated responsibilities. We picture this fourth publicity phase to involve a vigorous media campaign, likely including a pointed video to bring home the nature and implications of the visions.
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