Developing an Ecosystem Context for the Management of Water and Water Systems.
The complexity of issues dealing with the surface waters within an urban area often overwhelm the planners, engineers, biologists and ultimately the decision-makers. Faced with a depressing array of seemingly contradictory or multi-directional objectives such as flood protection, drainage, water quality, health, odour, safety, recreation, domestic water demands, and natural environmental concerns, agencies regulate and each discipline responds to these issues by attempting to simplify the issues within their own field of experience.
By simplification within each discipline the overall problems become partitioned into a set of sub-issues which allow a feeling of satisfaction within each discipline. The results are that engineers consider water as a waste product and manage it accordingly, hydro geologists recommend prevention of water infiltration in urban areas and then also express concern for dwindling water supplies, planners design communities and cannot understand why environmental concerns cannot be addressed after the fact and biologists manage in-channel habitat along small portions of stream oblivious to alterations in watershed pathways and processes that will negate their efforts.
Agencies in turn set regulatory standards for variables in the environment, based upon the minimum standard necessary to meet their bureaucratic, technical or environmental objectives. This process of regulation in turn leads to development designs that use the minimum standards as targets. This regulatory approach by minimum standard has fostered the creation of minimum environment.
A change in the philosophy and approach to modelling water and water systems is necessary. This paper discusses the need to move from managing the component parts of a system to model development, application and integration into a systems framework based upon a logical, interactive ecosystem unit which, in the case of water, is likely to be the watershed. This paper discusses the need to move from a regulatory basis for system management to a process based management system. is provided.
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