Participatory Modeling Processes to Build Community Knowledge Using Shared Model and Data Resources and in a Transboundary Pacific Northwest Watershed (Nooksack River Basin, Washington, USA)

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 2:10 PM
Christina Bandaragoda, University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States and Mary Dumas, Dumas & Associates, Bellingham, WA, United States
As with many western US watersheds, the Nooksack River Basin faces strong pressures associated with climate variability and change, rapid population growth, and deep-rooted water law. This transboundary basin includes contributing areas in British Columbia, Canada, and has a long history of joint data collection, model development, and facilitated communication between governmental (federal, tribal, state, local), environmental, timber, agricultural, and recreational user groups. However, each entity in the watershed responds to unique data coordination, information sharing, and adaptive management regimes and thresholds, further increasing the complexity of watershed management. Over the past four years, participatory methods were used to compile and review scientific data and models, including fish habitat (endangered salmonid species), channel hydraulics, climate data, agricultural, municipal and industrial water use, and integrated watershed scale distributed hydrologic models from over 15 years of projects (from jointly funded to independent shared work by individual companies, agencies, and universities). A specific outcome of the work includes participatory design of a collective problem statement used for guidance on future investment of shared resources and development of a data-generation process where modeling results are communicated in a three-tiers for 1) public/decision-making, 2) technical, and 3) research audiences. We establish features for successful participation using tools that are iteratively developed, tested for usability through incremental knowledge building, and designed to provide rigor in modeling. A general outcome of the work is ongoing support by tribal, state, and local governments, as well as the agricultural community, to continue the generation of shared watershed data using models in a dynamic legal and regulatory setting, where two federally recognized tribes have requested federal court resolution of federal treaty rights. Our participatory modeling process aims to integrate disciplines and watershed processes over time and space, while building capacity for more holistic watershed-scale thinking, or community knowledge, by research, governmental and public interests.