Laymen, Experts, NGOs, and Institutions in Watershed Management

Author(s): Pappalardo, G.

People's activities and behaviors are deeply related with water and ecosystems: the relationship between human communities, their places of life, and nature has always been a challenging issue, like Ian McHarg explains in 1969, inspiring many scholars' works. A question is open: who is part of human communities?

It is possible to identify some groups of people: inhabitants, with their direct experiences of their native lands (laymen); researchers and practitioners, with scientific tools to understand and to design lands (experts); supporters of specific interests and hopes (NGOs); environmental authorities, with their responsibility in managing lands (institutions). They have different knowledge, roles, interests, and expectations and, according to Fisher, everybody should be allowed to participate into the decision-making process about environmental matters.

Elinor Ostrom also underlines the necessity of collaboration between different people and institutions to manage Common Goods, like rivers, rich soil, and hydraulic infrastructures.

Starting from this framework, this paper has an overall goal: to identify how do laymen, experts, NGOs, and institutions work together in managing their places of life. The main question is: how to establish a sort of deal among them, focused on watershed management, to experience collaborative practices able to affect every-day life styles toward a responsible use of resources and better water quality? Even if every context has its own peculiarities, it is useful to learn from different experiences. In Italy, these kinds of deal are experimental practices called River Agreements: they still are not so common, and in Sicily there is an ongoing process to define and to build a River Agreement for the Simeto Watershed. It is a Participatory Action Research (PAR) process, i.e. a deep collaboration between scholars and associations' activists to help local communities (Whyte), and I am directly involved in the process as researcher. So I am studying some Cases in the United States, focusing on Mississippi State, to give an input to the process. The Case Study Method is a useful tool for PAR processes, to help participants in visualizing possible alternatives (Francis).

Through some Case Studies in Mississippi, chosen to answer the main question, this paper also will support the ongoing process in Sicily: it will be translated and shared with other participants through focus groups, public presentations and a web site under construction, as an opportunity for collective learning and education.
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Technical Sessions

1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
5 Watershed Mgmt. #1
6 Non-Point Source Assessment
7 Modeling
8 Water Quality
9 Best Mgt. Practices #2
10 Delta Water Conservation
11 Sedimentation
12 Storm Water
13 Watershed Mgt. #2
14 Public Water Systems
15 Surface Water Assessment & Evaluation

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