Institute for Environmental Negotiation

Empowering communities to create shared solutions

Community Decisions for Watershed Planning

(2007 - 2011)

Watershed nutrient imbalances pose risks to water quality. Improved decision aids and processes could reduce costs of achieving water quality protection goals by aiding watershed stakeholders in evaluating nutrient management strategies. The proposed project integrated research, extension, and education missions to develop and test a group decision aid, Community DECISIONS, with which watershed stakeholders can rank strategies to address imbalances of nutrient imports and exports.  Project objectives were to: 1) develop the Community DECISIONS group decision aid; 2) apply and assess the Community DECISIONS group decision aid with a stakeholder group in the North Fork Shenandoah sub-watershed; 3) develop and deliver education for university students in watershed management decision aids and decision assessment; and 4) demonstrate and train watershed citizens, state and regional water quality professionals in use of Community DECISIONS. Three workshops were conducted with an established stakeholder group to assist in development, use, and assessment of Community DECISIONS.  The stakeholder consensus building process and the Community DECISIONS aid was assessed to determine their effectiveness in ranking and implementing nutrient treatment strategies for stakeholder-defined watershed goals.  Integration of research, extension, and education tasks was accomplished through interaction among the stakeholders, principal investigators, and students in the development and assessment of the group decision aid and in formulation of watershed nutrient strategies.  The project produced a flexible, practical toolkit and collaborative decision process that can be employed to improve the quality of our nation’s surface and groundwater resources.