85th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 11 January 2005: 5:15 PM
Goal-oriented water policy – the Shenandoah valley experience
James Giraytys, Certified Consulting Meteorologist, Winchester, VA; and D. L. Bulova, T. J. Christoffel, and J. R. Staelin
Poster PDF (268.1 kB)
Risk in decision-making is a fact of life. Acceptable levels of risk can only be measured against the goals – the expectations - that have been set. When the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia faced the prolonged drought from roughly 1998 to 2002/3, the decision was made to engage the entire community from government to citizens in setting the goals of how the water policy would be set and executed.

In October 2002, elected officials from the Shenandoah Valley formed the Regional Water Resources Policy Committee (RWRPC) to begin a broad dialogue among local governments about common water issues facing the region. The initial focus of the effort was in response to the drought of 2002. The RWRPC also recognized that for any plan to be successful, it needed to be: (1) goal driven and involve a broad range of community and citizen stakeholders; and, (2) based on a sound understanding of available resources. The first two steps taken were: (1) an extensive stakeholder input process designed to identify regional water resources goals as well as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and (2) a data collection process, including information on agencies and organizations involved in water resources management, the existing programmatic and regulatory framework, and best practices/model programs. In this paper we discuss how that strategy is being put into practice to set the goals and then to match the goals to specific objectives. A data base structure has been created to allow the decision makers to track the progress being made toward achieving those goals. “Decision makers” is a broadly defined term designating government, private sector and citizen. The ultimate objective is to define “what if” scenarios, and to allow the decision makers to define the acceptable limits of uncertainty they are willing to accept and still achieve their goals. At this time the database is still being populated with information, so the work is very much an effort in progress. The Assessment does, however, represent an excellent example of what regional cooperation and coordination can achieve.

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