CSTPR Noontime Seminar
Finding new ground for advancing hydro-climatic information use among small mountain water systems
This talk will be available via webcast here.
Significant effort has been put into advancing the use and usability of information products to support adaptation to drought and climate variability, particularly for the water supply sector. This effort is warranted, as risks associated with drought and water scarcity are increasing across the western United States with population growth, changes to the volume and timing of snowpack runoff, and increased competition for different types of water uses. In an effort to improve usable science efforts, researchers to date have placed an emphasis on understanding various determinants that shape water managers’ readiness to take up information, especially factors related to the information products themselves (intrinsic factors) and to managers’ decision contexts and institutional constraints (contextual factors). This talk will present results from a recent study examining information use preferences and practices specifically among managers of small-scale water systems in the Upper Colorado River Basin, with an eye toward identifying new opportunities to effectively scale information usability and uptake among all water managers—from small and large systems alike—in a resource-constrained world. Our finding suggest that boundary organizations and other usable science efforts would benefit from capitalizing on the shared social identity and communities of practice that bind water managers together. Strategic engagement with larger, well-respected water systems as early adopters may serve as a useful alternative strategy to penetrate a new market of users (small-scale systems). Ultimately, we find a general sentiment among managers that the utility of additional or improved information has limits, suggesting a need for shifting away from improving forecasts to supporting managers to better cope with uncertainty. Ideas for future research will be discussed.
Biography: Rebecca Page is a Master's student in the Environmental Studies program at CU Boulder. Her academic research spans both theoretical and applied questions of when, why, and how communities and decision-makers adapt to climate variability and change. She is a graduate research student within the CU-Boulder's Western Water Assessment, where she studies drought risk decision-making and vulnerability perception among water managers in the Upper Colorado River Basin. She is also an affiliate with the boutique consulting firm Adaptation International, where she provides research support on vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning projects for communities across the US. Rebecca's interest in climate adaptation and resilience stems from her experiences living and working in some of the most vulnerable places in the world -- including coastal and delta mega-cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Mumbai, and Dhaka. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, she worked in the international development sector on a range of applied research and capacity building initiatives related to urban sustainability and climate change. From 2010-2011 she was a Fulbright Research Fellow in China, where she researched public participation in water quality monitoring. Rebecca received her B.A. in Environmental Studies and East Asian Studies from Oberlin College.