A New Tool for More Flexible and Resilient Water Policies

A new book created by the Sonoran Institute explains how exploratory scenario planning can be useful to prepare for the uncertainty of water in the near- and long-term future.

November 10, 2020, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Gila National Forest

Traveller70 / Shutterstock

John Shepard, senior director of programs at the Sonoran Institute, writes a blog post that offers news of a new book to aid in scenario planning for water supply issues in the western United States.

Shepard offers some historical context for why scenario planning can be powerful tool for water infrastructure planners:

Historically, communities planned around water supply and demand with specific goals in mind—we expect to grow by X, so we will need Y amount of water to meet future needs. They had a confidence that there would be few surprises ahead, but in reality, communities need to consider a range of possible situations when they plan for their water supply. Communities need to be able to pivot accordingly, depending on which future comes to pass.

The book offers case studies of scenario planning applied in three planning efforts—the Colorado Water and Growth Dialogue, a systems improvement process in Fort Collins, and an effort at the Upper Gila Watershed Partnership to identify resilience strategies for the watershed.

The Sonoran Institute wrote the book, published in August 2020, which was published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Video tutorials and other resources are also available to complement the guidance found in the book.

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