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TO: Dr. Diane Carter

FROM: Katie Buchan
SUBJECT: Portfolio Proposal
DATE: 2/7/2015
I propose to create a portfolio that analyzes communication strategies concerning water
conservation issues and water scarcity as they relate to the general public in the Western United
It is important to successfully communicate the anthropogenic causes of water scarcity and the
potential impacts associated with it to the public in an effective manner in order to raise
awareness and facilitate new approaches to management. Water conservation is an issue that
influences cultural way of life as well as ecosystems of the West.It has been a contentious issue
since development began in the West and there is a significant amount of mistrust of scientific
and governmental information surrounding the issue. By attempting to improve communication
approaches between science professionals and the general public, it would be possible to have
more cooperative efforts. This cooperation would minimize the anthropogenic impacts of water
scarcity and create a better understanding of how ecosystems change as a result of altered water
It is necessary to improve communication strategies concerning water scarcity and conservation
to improve management for the following reasons.

The general public have multiple water values that often exist in opposition to one
another, such as economic development and protection of wild rivers.
State laws, federal laws and international compacts often outline different sets of
regulations that are contradictory during periods of water scarcity.
Water development for the growing metropolis populations is complex and often
disconnected from natural cycles, leading to a misunderstanding of the challenges.

All of these issues have become more prevalent in the recent decade with the occurrence of
severe droughts. A Federal Court ruling in 2007 ruled in favor of protecting the endangered fish
Delta smelt by reallocating 300 billion gallons of water to make up for water lost in the drought
deficit, negatively affecting farmers in the Central Valley who relied upon that water for
irrigation (USGCRP, 2009). In 2011 and 2012, severe drought conditions on top of already dry
conditions caused massive water scarcity impacts in central Texas, with some towns having to
ship in drinking water at a high cost and associated net agricultural losses of $7.62 billion (Davis,
2001). The linking feature in terms of public impact that these cases have, is a gap in
communication between what the public, economists, scientists and politicians/lawmakers value
and act upon. By addressing the communication strategies concerning water conservation and
scarcity between these parties, it will be possible to sustainably plan better use of our resources
for multiple purposes.

Works Cited
Davis, Sandra K. 2001. The politics of water scarcity in the Western states. The Social Science
Journal 38 (2001) 527-542.
Fannin, Blair. 2012. Updated 2011 Texas agricultural drought losses total $7.62 billion. Texas
A & M Agrilife. Accessed on 7 February 2012 from
USGCRP (2009). Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. Karl, T.R., J. M.
Melillo, and T. C. Peterson (eds.). United States Global Change Research Program.
Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA.