Water policy perceptions in arid land: An example from the Southern Great Plains

Authors: Maria Sol Ramirez Senz*, Oklahoma State University, Jacqueline Vadjunec, Oklahoma State University
Topics: Legal Geography, Human-Environment Geography, Environmental Perception
Keywords: Water governance, policy perceptions, water, drought, government, agriculture
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Capitol Ballroom 2, Hyatt Regency, Fourth Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Groundwater and water surface systems are vital for the livelihoods and operations of agricultural producers. This paper uses a water governance approach to explore political, social, and administrative systems that may influence water management in small conglomerates of transboundary agricultural communities. Additionally, an environmental perception approach will include the exploration of water governance interpretation on a local level. Cimarron County, Oklahoma, Las Animas County, Colorado, and Union County, New Mexico, adjoining counties in the Southern Great Plains, are important production points for the area in despite of their arid climate and their drought periods. The first question we aim to answer is, how do the current agricultural practices vary within the compared communities? To answer this, we will use information from the USDA Agricultural Census from 2017, to present the statistical differences of water management related practices in agriculture by county and state. The second question is, what are the regional political agreements that involve agriculture within the three states as part of the Western States Water Council? To answer this, we used a content analysis of historical public records of the Western States Water Council. The third question is, what are the predominant themes in the local narratives of the citizens of each county regarding water legislation and water rights? To answer this, we used a qualitative analysis of sixty-five key informant interviews collected in 2019. We conclude that agricultural water governance requires the combined exploration of different geographic scales to get a better depiction of small neighboring communities.

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