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Finding a New Balance: Lessons from the Stave River Water Use Plan

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In this paper, we examine the multi-stakeholder consultation process and technical analysis used to develop the Stave River Water Use Plan. Water use planning is a new process introduced by the government of British Columbia, Canada to revise water allocations/licenses to better reflect changing public values and information about social and environmental priorities. The Stave River Water Use Plan process resulted in a consensus agreement on changes to the operating parameters for a hydroelectric facility that will result in benefits to all interests, including fisheries and power interests, relative to current operations. The paper identifies three approaches that have evolved to address multi-stakeholder, multi-objective decision problems that are characterized by risk and uncertainty – e.g., consensus-building approaches, decision analytic approaches and adaptive management – and looks for ways to integrate them. It identifies some common pitfalls and key lessons from the Stave experience. Key lessons are related to: 1) the use of performance measures to structure the process and facilitate informed trade-offs among multiple objectives; and 2) methods of making decisions under imperfect information in a multi-stakeholder process and incorporating formal adaptation strategies to improve decisions over time.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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