Water Resources Policy and Decision Making: 878512

Water Resources Policy and Decision Making

1. What are the major tradeoffs associated with river restoration and are such activities politically and/or economically sustainable?

According to the author Doyle (2018), there were almost five points of major tradeoffs in the river restoration policy in the United States in the nineteenth century. As per the author’s ides, the major tradeoffs are as described as follows:

Federalism: Federalism in literal terms mean the system or the federal principle that government had set for a specific country combining the systems of a general government as well as the provincial or regional government within an unified political system. In case of the water restoration, combining the government across all states in the United States has become an increasingly complex matter today. The federalism that had been characterized for the water policy has been extremely pragmatic in nature and it also helped in emphasizing the collaborative partnerships. The management strategies that were a result of the river restoration legislation were turned to be adaptable in nature.

Sovereignty and Property: The sovereignty and property was one of the major tradeoffs in the context of water restoration policy. This is the phase where water had developed into a commodity which needed to be bought from stores. This also gave rise to the increasing amounts of disputes between different corporations and private individuals including the levels in government as well (Sexton et al., 1999). One of the noted dispute regarding the sovereignty and property law due to the water restoration technique had been the oyster beds dispute in New Jersey that was situated beneath the navigable waters. The court decided that navigable waters were open to all the citizens and the oyster beds were also under the civilian rights for use.

Taxation: Taxation is phase as one of the major tradeoffs in the water restoration law in the United States, however, this phase is a bit dubious as the water and tax law does not hold a good combination. There is a mutual shortcoming in the understanding of the law in both the water and tax laws sectors after water was considered to be a commodity.

Regulation: Regulation is one of the tradeoffs that offer the understanding of the taxation and reason for water restoration depicting the history behind the damns in the country of United States.

Conservation: Conservation is one of the major tradeoffs that describe every process in the development of the river restoration techniques.

Taking about the political and economic sustainability about the major tradeoffs in the water restoration technique, it could be said that economically the process was sustainable; however, it was found that the politically, because of the water restoration policy there had been disputes at all political levels.

2. Describe the evolution of water law in the western U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries and how water markets were created to address water resource scarcity.

 The evolution of the water law in the western part of the United States during the 19th and the 20th century had been just not due to the addition of the climatic resources but also due to the influence of asset management. The water scarcity that was a result initiated due to the combination of the factors due to the scarcity of water. Due to this factor, a predictive framework was made to evolve during the water scarcity that decided on the decisions to be made on behalf of the water law (Doyle, 2018). Before outlining the predictive framework and testing this against the empirical evidence, the context in which prior appropriation and riparian rights evolved in the US warrants some discussion.  The application and subsequent codification of prior appropriation in the US is well known and has undergone extensive examination.

Water markets were successfully evolved as a result for providing the rationing for the need of water in huge number due to the water scarcity. It relatively fixed the sources of supply but the markets were seen to be developing slowly and relied more on voluntary bargaining. This was to make sure that both the buyers and the sellers are benefitted by the water market.

3. The role science plays in this decision-making framework

Decision making is primarily considered as a human activity altogether but the decision making process involves a systematic study to implement a framework for decision making in the recent times. Science in this process of decision making involves the field of understanding to identify the thought process of a human being and enhancing them further to make effective and improved decision. Environmental decision making is a complex process that needs to focus on the ever changing and complex factors of the environment and also the human minds according to a situation, In this case, the science behind decision making needs to be find out to develop a flexible framework that would put together the mixture of art and science to make sure that the decisions taken in this regard are not rigid or unchangeable when there are alterations in the situation (Poff et al., 2003). Summing up all together, it can be said that the involvement of science in the decision making process develops a clear idea about the ways in which a human mind develops the idea of making a decision, develop a framework and enhance the capability of a human mind to reach a particular decision as per the given situation.

However, in spite of the advantages that the science behind decision making framework imposes, there are added disadvantages in the matter as well. For example, the rationality behind the suggested ideas that the science behind the decision making framework initiates are mostly substantive and procedural. They also have a heightened degree of complexity as they are based on too many variables working over a single situation.


Doyle, M. (2018). The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade it Rivers. W.W. Norton and Company, New York.

Poff, N. L., Allan, J. D., Palmer, M. A., Hart, D. D., Richter, B. D., Arthington, A. H., … & Stanford, J. A. (2003). River flows and water wars: emerging science for environmental decision making. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment1(6), 298-306.

Sexton, K., Marcus, A. A., Easter, K. W., & Burkhardt, T. D. (Eds.). (1999). Better environmental decisions: strategies for governments, businesses, and communities. Island Press.