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Water Policy Vol 15 No 3 pp 364–385 © IWA Publishing 2013 doi:10.2166/wp.2012.077

Adaptive management and governance of Delaware River water resources

Lynn A. Mandaranoa and Robert J. Masonb

Corresponding author. Community and Regional Planning, Temple University, 580 Meetinghouse Road, Ambler, PA 19002, USA. E-mail: lynn.mandarano@temple.edu
Geography and Urban Studies, Temple University, 316 Gladfelter Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA


This paper articulates the complexities of adaptively managing Delaware River water resources to meet shifting priorities of drinking water supply, drought mitigation and flood mitigation, as well as conflicting stakeholder interests. In particular, the paper examines the short-term and long-term programs that comprise the Delaware River Basin Commission's (DRBC) and the 1954 US Supreme Court Decree parties' successful adaptive management approach that seeks to balance the growing list of demands for water resources management, including drinking water supply, drought management, flood control and cold water fisheries protection. Review of the DRBC's adaptive governance approach reveals the critical complexities of designing experimental, yet science-driven management approaches and effectively engaging various sets of stakeholders in the associated decision-making processes.

Keywords: Adaptive management; Interstate compacts; River systems; Water policy; Water resources management; Water-use conflicts

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