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Page history last edited by David Goldsmith 15 years, 5 months ago

Management of Human-Natural Systems in the ACF Context

The design approach to management problems on the ACF will include a biocentric viewpoint for consideration. The current management regimen relies on political and technical mechanisms but does not consider the biosphere of the rivers’ many ecosystems as an essential stakeholder in preserving the basin water services.


There is a tight integration between the built environment and its needs for municipal waters, recreation areas, industrial uses, power generation, agricultural uses, and others; and the natural flow of the river basin with its biotic and abiotic elements. Part of the problem of rights to the river has arisen from incommensurability between stakeholders requiring water for the built environment and the need to preserve a functioning river system and support the rights of the river as a part of various ecosystems throughout the river basin and into the Apalachicola Bay.


By acknowledging the river along with its physical characteristics and ecosystems as stakeholders in developing management paradigms for the river the design approach to the build environment it is hoped that a sustainable system of river management can be achieved. Stakeholders at each level of the human-natural interaction can benefit from an understanding of how they can meet their needs and enhance the ability of the system to supply the needs of other stakeholders.

One goal is to help stakeholders understand the feedback loops generated within the human-natural interaction along the river system. There are obvious implications downstream when water is removed at the river’s head but there are also impacts from ground water extraction, surface runoff, and changes in water temperature and content as it is used in industrial processes. By changing activities or processes at one point along the river basin the entire basin is affected and this web of interactions and reactions needs to be considered in the design phase of any particular point of the watershed.


From a biocentric perspective there is a non-negotiable level of water required within the watershed, the variable is how much water is removed for human services. The political process of reducing flows incrementally does not solve the underlying problem of human water needs and does not meet ecological needs. Besides increased extraction there are more immediate strategies to deal with water demand in municipal, agricultural, and industrial processes. A market solution to municipal needs is to increase utility rates for water usage beyond a certain base level, the cost of water is currently so low there is little incentive for conservation, increasing rates will provide that market incentive for innovation and conservation as well as increase revenues that can go toward future water projects. Agricultural methods can also be improved, inefficient irrigation methods and field management can reduce the need for ground water withdrawals throughout the ACF basin. Industrial and power generation use of water, particularly flow controls throughout the dam network of the rivers, need to adapt their usage patterns to better mimic natural draught and flood cycles of the river ecosystems. Flow modeling methods can find a balance between extraction and replication of natural cycles that continue to support ecosystem services.


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