Exploring the gap between water managers and researchers: Difficulties of model-based tools to support practical water management
|Engineering; Engineering, Civil; participatory river basin management; policy-science interface; social learning; tools; use of models; VALIDATION; Water Resources; WFD
|WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
Supported by EU funds, the European research community has been putting much effort into providing model-based tools to support water resource managers in implementing water management as well as the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. This paper presents the results of a two-year long elicitation phase which aimed to explain why the use of tools in water management is not as great as the corresponding investment in applied research in this area might suggest it should be. The paper identifies a gap between water managers and research community that is evidence of a mutual misunderstanding of the fundamental activities of both communities. We elaborate on these misunderstandings between these two communities by focussing on their attitudes towards seven assumptions that derived from an elicitation phase carried out between 2003 and 2004. These misunderstandings appear to revolve around the issues of the role and importance of model-based tools in water management; the transferability of models to new target sites; the role of participatory modelling in water management; how to solve lack of confidence in model-based tools; the development of computer user interfaces to improve tool usability; and the nature of model integration. Based on these insights, recommendations for improving research, development and ultimately the use of model-based tools in river basin management processes are proposed. The recommendations include improving researchers' understanding of water management processes and the role their tools play within such a process; identifying for both communities the importance that such tools can play as part of social learning-oriented management processes; improving the role of software consultancies as carriers of research results; considering new methods of model transferability between target basins; and expanding the structure of funding for academic research and development projects to allow the greater provision of non-technical requirements such as post-development tool maintenance and transferability, required by water managers.
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