What do politics have to do with it?

June 30, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- The politics of managing the watersheds and river basins which provide water for the millions of inhabitants of New York City, Los Angeles, the Pacific Northwest and other increasingly thirsty areas of the country are explored in Embracing Watershed Politics, a new book which asks whether and how politics are getting in the way as Americans try to better manage and protect the natural resources of our watersheds.

The new book by William Blomquist, Ph.D., Dean of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, and Edella Schlager, Ph.D., of the School of Public Adminis¬tration and Policy at the University of Arizona, provides illustrations and explanations of why political considerations are essential, unavoidable, and in some ways even desirable elements of decision making about water and watersheds.

"Determining how we make decisions about managing a resource like water is real world politics. And it is something that not only urban planners, water managers and others who work in the field should think about. The general public would benefit from seeing the complexity of the political issues involved and how they impact their communities," said Blomquist.

The main theme of the book is illustrated by case studies of the Santa Ana and San Gabriel watersheds of California, the Platte River Basin of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, the Colorado River Basin, and the Delaware River Basin of Delaware and Pennsylvania, but policy makers and citizens, no matter their location, are confronted with similar types of political challenges to the ones presented by the authors.

This is politics not as an abstract concept, but in real world situations. Why do people set up things as they do? Is there logic or sense to the way things are done? What does politics have to do with it?

"The politics of watersheds are not unlike the politics of many other issues that affect daily life -- people are always having to decide upon the allocation of resources and the setting of priorities, whether it is about electricity or petroleum or land uses. There is much to be learned and reflected upon, both within the watershed context and beyond," said Blomquist.
Embracing Watershed Politics is published by University Press of Colorado.[Note to editors: Review copies of Embracing Watershed Politics are available upon request.]

Indiana University

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