Alfalfa sprinkler. Photo: Phil Hogan / USDA.

In recent years, California has worked toward sustainable water management, with regions developing plans to replenish depleted aquifers and balance economic and environmental needs. The Stockholm Environment Institute helps local agencies in this effort, through the creation of a shared “mental model” of their watersheds.

Such models have been particularly helpful for regional plans under two state-supported efforts: Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The formulation of these plans often involve stakeholders with different – and sometimes conflicting – interests and perspectives. To bring diverse interests to the table, SEI uses a process called Robust Decision Support (RDS), based on concepts developed by the RAND Corporation.

This fact sheet describes SEI’s work using this process, where stakeholders work to arrive at a common understanding of their water resources system, the major uncertainties confronting it, and the potential management strategies that could be employed in maintaining its sustainability.