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Assessing Western U.S. Interstate River Watershed Cooperation for Water Quality Issues
AuthorBerry, Kayla Dawn
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Today's watershed collaborative efforts are characterized by ad hoc voluntary associations that typically include governmental and non-governmental actors, local organizations, and citizens who are involved in the decision-making process, and whose objectives are centered on more holistic approaches to integrated watershed management. This study builds on existing watershed management research, specifically in the western U.S., to understand why and how interstate river watershed cooperation occurs regarding water quality issues and the perceptions of success related to these activities. A part of this research also builds on previous water quality data management survey data gathered in 1991. A phone survey was administered to watershed actors in six western U.S. interstate watersheds that had water quality concerns (i.e., listed Total Maximum Daily Loads, TMDLs), included a tribal entity, had river water used for drinking water, irrigation and/or agricultural uses within the watershed, and had water rights strategies similar to that of the Truckee River Watershed (i.e., prior appropriation). In total, 48 surveys were conducted using the "snowball" sampling approach. The most common actor group surveyed was non-governmental 33%, while the least common was tribal entities (6%). Logistic regression analysis indicated that the total number of cooperative activities present in a watershed was the most significant predictor of the presence of watershed cooperation relating to water quality issues. Ordinal logistic regressions revealed that respondents perceived watershed organizations, meetings, and watershed partnerships as being the most successful forms of interstate watershed cooperative activities regarding water quality issues. Different types of cooperation may be more beneficial in different watershed scenarios, therefore further research is needed for understanding how key events (i.e., impetuses), the number of jurisdictional boundaries, and issues of trust relate more closely with the presence of successful watershed cooperation regarding water quality. Although past research determined that there was room for improvement concerning water quality management and cooperation in the Truckee River Watershed, the current research found that progress is occurring and more water quality cooperative activities are present.