Using mental-modelling to explore how irrigators in the Murray–Darling Basin make water-use decisions

Ellen M. Douglas, Sarah Ann Wheeler, David J. Smith, Ian C. Overton, Steven A. Gray, Tanya M. Doody, Neville D. Crossman
2016 Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies  
Study region: Water stress and over-allocation are at the forefront of water management and policy challenges in Australia, especially in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB). Because irrigated agriculture is a major social and economic component of the MDB, farmer decisionmaking plays a major role in water sustainability in the region. Study focus: This study used a fuzzy cognitive mapping methodology, 'mental modeling', to understand the perceived constraints of irrigator water-use decisions in the
more » ... MDB, for two different types of irrigation: permanent and annual crops. The approach elicits and documents irrigator insights into the complex and networked nature of irrigation water use decisions in relation to farm-based dynamics. New hydrological insights for the region: Results suggest support for greater local and irrigator involvement in water management decisions. Many, if not most, of the irrigators understood the need for, or at least the inevitability of, governmental policies and regulations. However, a lack of accountability, predictability, and transparency has added to the uncertainty in farm-based water decision-making. Irrigators supported the concept of environmental sustainability, although they might not always agree with how the concept is implemented. The mental modelling approach facilitated knowledge sharing among stakeholders and can be used to identify common goals. Future research utilizing the mental modelling approach may encourage co-management and knowledge partnerships between irrigators, water managers and government officials.
doi:10.1016/j.ejrh.2016.01.035 fatcat:xtfl4uqvnradnnte2s2aw7rpnm