North Branch Shared Vision Planning
Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin
ICPRB facilitated a series of stakeholder meetings in 2007 and 2008 to develop a shared vision for the watershed. These initial efforts informed decision making in the region through consensus-building and collaboration.
ICPRB had the first meeting with stakeholders October, 2007. Stakeholders and various experts were consulted for input on how reservoir operations affect all the interests. Based on this input, functions were added to an interactive model to predict the impacts of operational changes. The model is structured for ease of use so that all stakeholders have an understanding of the process and can understand how different management scenarios affect river uses. The goal was develop a model that was easily understood and could be endorsed as an accurate representation of the reservoirs, the river, and the impact that operations have on all the issues.
ICPRB used a specific technique for this interactive modeling approach known as “Shared Vision Planning.” The thrust of Shared Vision Planning is to prevent technical issues (how does the system work?) from getting in the way of constructive debate about values (how should the system be managed?). If stakeholders and resource managers do not agree on the basic facts, it is very difficult for them to reach an understanding on the broader issues. But by building and using a model together, participants develop a “shared vision” for how the system works. Everybody develops a common understanding for how the reservoirs are operated in different situations and the resulting impacts. Once they have this common understanding, participants can debate what should be done in different situations, such as how much water to release during the early part of a developing drought. Without this common understanding, debates about the basic facts may get in the way of finding constructive solutions to the real problems.
Who was involved in the project?
Many individuals and agencies participated in the project. Study participants included whitewater kayaking and rafting guides, fishing guides, Trout Unlimited, the Upper Potomac River Commission, the Washington metropolitan area water suppliers, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Baltimore District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin.
Funding was provided by the Washington metropolitan area water suppliers, including the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, the Washington Aqueduct of the USACE, and Fairfax Water.