Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly Water Management Model Project

Project Description

Sandia National Laboratories and the Utton Center partnered to provide technical assistance and facilitation to the Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly. SNL helped members of the Water Assembly develop a computer based simulation model tailored to aid the Assembly with regional water planning and the decision-making process. The Utton Transboundary Resources Center at the University of New Mexico School of Law collaborated with SNL and the Assembly by providing active facilitation to members of the model development team. The Utton Center was also available to provide legal analysis and administrative support throughout the planning process.

The focus of the collaboration was to plan and develop the model. A core modeling team, composed of Assembly members, met throughout the spring and summer of 2002 to identify the primary actions and physical components for model analysis. The meeting process began with an educational focus on the capabilities of the model, and intensive discussion as the model team identified scenarios for evaluation. The model construction reflected the results of the modeling team discussions. Ultimately, the model design provided a decision support tool equipped to evaluate alternative water management strategies. In addition, the model was designed to serve as an educational tool for presentation to the general public.

Utton Center Role

The Utton Center's role was to streamline the model development process and assist the modeling team in maximizing their productivity during meetings. The model team identified data and information necessary to incorporate into the model. In addition, the team identified several scenarios for analysis and compared the relative merits and deficiencies of each scenario. The facilitation process was instrumental throughout this endeavor as the team worked to establish methods, procedures, and criteria for measuring and evaluating the relative desirability and effectiveness of the scenarios.

A second important component of the facilitation process occured in conjunction with the public outreach portion of the water planning process. Community conversations are public meetings designed to gather feedback and generate discussion. The model was presented during a series of conversations, both to educate the public about the complexity of the planning process and to gather comments. Later in the process the scenarios were presented to the public through the community conversations. As in the model team meetings, the active participation of a skilled facilitator fostered effective participation and greatly improved the productivity of public outreach meetings.

Group Consensus Report

What if there is no consensus...

It is crucial that you have agreement on your fall back steps before you begin your process of seeking consensus, and that the consequences of not reaching consensus are clear. Be sure you know:

  • what we will do failing consensus
  • how the decision will be made if consensus fails

Final efforts to reach consensus can include:

take the issue apart, and see if there is consensus on part of it

  • ask the dissenting party or parties to create language which they think will be acceptable to the others
  • identify additional information needs, and assign that data search to one or more parties
  • ask parties to check with their constituents for guidance, clarification, or creative ideas
  • form a small group of the dissenters and one or two others to try to find a solution

As a last resort, you can admit there is no consensus, and:

  • agree to disagree, and file minority and majority reports on the issue
  • if a decision is required to move forward, vote with at least 90% required to pass, and minority report required from the dissenter(s)

Cooperative Modeling Team Meeting Minutes

Technical Documentation

Sandia Model Documentation
An Exploration of Innovative Technologies for Active Water Management