Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Water Resources Research Act

The latest issue of Water History has a few articles with legal aspects on which I plan to post. The first is "Instituting water research: the Water Resources Research Act (1964) and the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute", by Adam M. Sowards and Brynn M. Lacabanne. The abstract:
In 1964, Congress passed the Water Resources Research Act (WRRA) and created state research institutes to pursue practical research for the nation’s growing water problems. The Idaho Water Resources Research Institute (IWRRI), initiated as part of WRRA, implemented its research program with multidisciplinary specialists across Idaho. Collaborating with public and private partners, IWRRI advanced research that reflected distinct political, economic, and environmental needs at a time when the state required more rigorous water planning. Case studies presented here include research on understanding and valuing wild and scenic rivers, tracing and mitigating water pollution from industrial mining, and improving efficiency and promoting maximization in irrigation among rural landscapes. Scientists developed new methods and advised on ways to improve water quality. Tracing IWRRI’s research demonstrates how concerns about wilderness, pollution, and efficiency developed within a research regime determined to improve water resources management. Each element reflected historical forces and social values, something only occasionally acknowledged by the researchers but nonetheless central to their efforts. In this way, IWRRI shines analytical light on state water use and the policy and scientific methods used to comprehend, mitigate, and manage water resources. The history of institutes like IWRRI provide a neglected, but useful, avenue to explore the powerful ways contemporary legal, political, and economic concerns shaped scientific research agendas, reminding us of the larger social context in which scientific research occurs.

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