by Mollie Podmore, 2016-17 Student Fellow
In our first of five sections for the 2017 State of the Rockies Report, Student Fellow Mollie Podmore explores the historic progression of water management paradigms that aid in explaining why dams are being breached in some regions, while new diversions are being planned in others.
"During the early half of the 20th century, landscapes in the West underwent drastic changes as federal water projects rapidly emerged. However, some scholars speculate that recent decades have seen a changing paradigm in water management as a growing concern for conservation, ecological well-being, and social benefits of environmental health have begun to take hold. How are dams and diversions addressed during this transition toward reduction of environmental impact? In some areas, a changing paradigm has led to drastic measures such as dam removal, while others continue to rely on existing infrastructure models. Environmental restoration and hazard mitigation efforts have demanded formerly profitable projects such as southern Washington’s Condit Dam to be decommissioned. Meanwhile, a habit of water hoarding continues to drive diversion initiatives such as the disputed Gila River project. What pushes the opposing sides of these divergent initiatives, and how are conflicting interests managed or open to compromise?"