Oregon State University and the US Bureau of Reclamation collaborated for eight years on the US Western Water Institutional Solutions Project in order to better understand water conflict and cooperation in the western United States and to increase the US Bureau of Reclamation’s institutional capacity.  The project consisted of several aspects detailed below: 

Upper Colorado Region Conflict and Cooperation Event Database & Analysis

As part of his PhD dissertation research, Nathan Eidem analyzed the social, economic, and environmental aspects of the Upper Colorado River Region from 1970-2005 and produced a case study of the hydropolitics in the Upper San Juan Basin.  The reports are available below. Nathan's dissertation titled Enhancing social-ecological resilience in the Colorado River Basin is available on OSU's Scholar's Archive. Check out the Colorado River Basin Research page for more research and data.  

Water Governance Capacity

For her Master’s research, Mariya Pak evaluates the Bureau of Reclamation's water governance practices and studies how agencies interact with each other while governing water. She identifies and describes old and new tools used for better water governance practices, and seeks to understand institutional, socioeconomic, and political factors that might facilitate or hinder change in governance practices.  Her thesis titled Assessing water governance capacity in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Albuquerque Area Office  is available on OSU's Scholar's Archive

Focus Groups on Water Conflict and Cooperation

OSU and the Bureau of Reclamation hosted focus groups in 2007 and 2009 as well as a workshop in 2008 to determine ways to increase the Bureau’s institutional capacity, particularly through the identification of incentives and disincentives for conflict management and cooperation through collaboration.  Summaries of the groups and workshops are available below:

Analysis of Incentives and Disincentives for Conflict and Cooperation

OSU Graduate Kim Ogren conducted an analysis of incentives and disincentives for cooperation and conflict in water management. She explored how they factored into the Bureau’s decision making through two case studies on the Bureau ’s response to the endangered silvery minnow in the Middle Rio Grande Basin and implementation of the Water 2025 Initiative.  Her work cuminated in her Master's thesis titled An investigation and analysis of the incentives and disincentives for conflict prevention and mitigation in the Bureau of Reclamation's water management, which is available on OSU's Scholar's Archive.  The outcomes of her work resulted in several reports: 

Development of an Automated Event Coding Tool

To see if event coding could be done by automatically by computers, computer science students completed a course project, Supervised LDA for Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database. This work was expanded upon by Walker Orr (OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), a student of Dr. Prasad Tadepalli, to develop a tool that employs artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.  Learn more about events coding through the Basins at Risk Project and the International Water Event Database.

The tool is free and available for download: we recommend downloading the installation instructions first and follow them as you download the zipped folder containing the tool. 

Conflict Management Training and Workbook Development

From 2008-2012, Dr. Aaron Wolf and others from Oregon State University (OSU) conducted five collaborative competency and conflict management training workshops at Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) offices in:

  1. Bismarck, North Dakota;
  2. Phoenix, Arizona;
  3. Billings, Montana;
  4. Albuquerque, New Mexico;
  5. Sacramento, California;
  6. Boise, Idaho;
  7. Salt Lake City, Utah; and
  8. Boulder City, Nevada. 

Specific materials were developed for these courses on Sharing Water, Building Relations: Managing and Transforming Water Conflict in the US West.  Each a participant was given a participant workbook; a complementary Instructor's manual was also developed so that others can benefit from the training courses. Together these served as the primary training materials for the course.

At the beginning of each workshop, participants completed a questionnaire pertaining to their experience with conflict management and collaboration at the Bureau of Reclamation. At the end of the training sessions, participants evaluated the course.  These questionnaires were analyzed and summary reports are available: