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Water in 2025: Beliefs and Values as a Means for Cooperation
Abstract and Figures
Issues of water policy in the West are about people and the diverse beliefs and values that they hold. The relationship among these beliefs and values and society’s ability to find policy solutions is strong, but not always evident. In an environment of resource scarcity, many in the water community have already placed themselves in positions that advocate for particular solutions. There are ongoing debates about the challenges, strategies, and their associated issues, but rarely are the underlying values examined. Instead of embracing common interests, we have tended to harden against the various positions that others hold. Recognizing the full range of beliefs and values is not just a useful starting point for tackling today’s challenges; it is a pragmatic starting point. Searching for commonalities, understanding personal assumptions, and knowing how others understand situations can foster innovative strategies. But prior to effectively determining what strategies to endorse, it is necessary to understand how the varying values and beliefs in the water community mold interpretations of the most pressing water problems. To illustrate how beliefs and values are connected to water challenges, this paper highlights the results of two Q-Method surveys given to 84 water stakeholders in Colorado. The stakeholders included people representing environmental, agriculture, recreation, and urban interests as well as water providers, elected officials, and researchers.
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