Water Awareness and Education for Sustainable Watershed Management
Today, the human society continuously deals with the issue of limited resources, as compared to an extensively growing amount of needs. Among these limited resources, water is vital, not only because mankind cannot survive without it, but also because it is essential to producing so many other secondary items, including food and clothing. At the same time, water and watersheds are an essential part of the environment, home to numerous species of animals and plants. Conservationism and environmental protection has a definite impact on the existence and evolution of mankind as well.
With that in mind, this project proposal will focus on identifying a set of solutions that the inhabitants in the Medina River Watershed (Bexar & Medina County TX) can use to address water pollution in this area, as well as the means by which water conservation can be consolidated and promoted as a distinct approach in the neighborhood. The project will focus on creating a series of educational workshops that will be informative for the inhabitants, but that will also create and stimulate a collaborative environment in which conservationist practices can strive.
The project proposal will aim to define the problem and identify relevant elements of the problem background to create the theoretical foundation of the proposal. The proposal will define the purpose and analyze the objectives and scope of the solutions that are subject to the proposal. At the same time, the proposal will investigate the potential budget that would be required for this project and list a set of recommendations on the way forward.
Background and Problem Definition
It takes 155 gallons of water to grow a pound of wheat, but 30 to 50% of that food is eventually wasted, meaning that the water is wasted as well (Kostigen, 2008). At the same time, 1.1 billion people out of a total world population of around 7 billion does not have access to freshwater (Kostigen, 2008).
These two figures emphasize the importance of developing and sustaining a conservationist culture and attitude. Conservationism starts locally: the water that is saved in Bexar & Medina County will eventually become available for individuals who do not have access to water in developing countries. These saved resources will have a significant impact in those regions.
At the same time, the environmental component of the project needs to be considered as well. Non-point source pollution is the primary source of pollution in the Bexar & Medina County, but affects not only the county itself, but also regions through which the River Medina passes. The environmental impact of the non-point source pollution is not local or regional, but translates into other areas, including the economy and the human dimension.
The conclusion of these facts is that watershed management needs to be viewed in a holistic manner encompassing government, urban, rural, agriculture, industry, and business. This makes everyone a stakeholder in sustainable watershed management (O'Neill, 2005), not only at local or regional level, but with impact and consequences at global level. Each stakeholder may take a different role - cooperative, defensive, subdued and enhanced; and some may be active while others are passive (Moore & Koontz, 2003). Due to differing roles and the issues that need to be addressed, awareness of water concerns and education of the public on watershed protection is paramount to societal and ecological welfare and sustainable watershed management around the world.
All this theoretical background points towards two essential elements that the project will address. The first element is the need for information. Many individuals in the Bexar & Medina County have a limited perception of what water conservationism could mean, including outside their region, as well as what non-point source pollution is and how it affects other areas outside their own.
Second, the project will have a cooperative dimension as well, moving the discussion from theory and information towards practical measures and actions that the community can implement in order to target non-point source pollution and promote local water conservationism. This means that the project will aim to bring the individuals of the community together in organized sessions where they can exchange ideas on water conservation, identify potential areas where this is lacking in the community, propose solutions with a larger impact etc. All shareholders, including local townships, farmers, ranchers, general public and school districts, will be part of this collaborative process.
The project will thus aim to address these issues by creating a series of innovative and interactive educational workshops. As an educational tool, the workshops will help increase awareness in the community on the issues previously described, with a potential impact at a larger scale. At the same time, as a collaborative tool, the workshops will bring together relevant shareholders from the community. In these workshops, they will not only learn about water conservation and combating non-point source pollution, but will also work together to come up with solutions to promote the former and counter and effects of the latter.
Purpose, Objectives, Scope
As identified, the problem is that non-point source pollution affects the watershed around the Medina River, while, at the same time, water is not used in a sustainable manner. The project proposes to address these two parts of the problem by creating a multidimensional platform, covering both educational and collaborative dimensions, translated through a series of workshops that will help the community understand the issues and address the specific problems that have been identified.
The project will thus help resolve the problem that has been identified through addressing the informational challenge to sustainability. The idea here is that, while many have heard the term sustainability being used in different contexts, few are able to pinpoint what sustainability actually refers to and, in this context, to better understand how one can bring his or her contribution to implementing a sustainable approach in the community. The lack is always informational: individuals do not have sufficient understanding of information in order to move on to the next level and implement what they have learned.
The project will however address another challenge as well: collaboration. Often, conservationist approaches or actions to reduce the negative impact on the environment are limited to individuals who undertake such actions. This translates into a limited applicability of the action. However, bringing the community together in these workshops will create synergy through more individuals committing to undertake the measures being discussed and proposed within this educational framework.
There are several innovative design approaches that can be taken into consideration. First, the educational workshops should also be practical, not only theoretical. This means that some of the workshops should be in the nature, along the banks of the Medina River, where the participants can experiment and understand first hand the environmental challenges that their region is faced with.
Second, technology today plays an important role in connecting people, in ensuring access to information and in putting together these elements towards a positive effect. The idea is that technology could be incorporated into the educational project in order to make it more effective and to encourage participants to interact more often on the proposed topics. An online platform of dialogue could occasionally facilitate a virtual workshop rather than aim to continuously bring together the people in the community in the same place.
At the same time, an IT company could be hired in order to identify and propose IT solutions that could help in both the informational and the collaboration dimensions of the workshops. Its job would be to research and create an application that would increase the effectiveness of the workshops and produce more efficient results in the medium and long-term.
The proposed challenge will have an important role in addressing sustainability at a global level. There are several elements to be taken into consideration. First of all, one of the proposed objectives of the workshops is to bring people together so that they can work in a collaborative effort towards addressing water conservation issues and environmental protection in their county. This appears to have a potential regional impact, however, this is something that can be extrapolated at a global level, affecting the planet in its entirety. The same effort could be replicated in other regions of the world, while the effect could prove a positive step towards making this global.
At the same time, as shown, saving water in the Medina River Watershed and in the Bexar & Medina County could reverberate as water saved in developing countries, where people most need it, including through lower food prices and prices for other products that need water in the manufacturing process. The prosperity of the entire planet could potentially be positively affected if the educational workshops in this region are a success.
One could also consider expanding the framework of the educational workshops so as to include, through the use of technology, participants in other regions or countries who face the same problems. This could develop the platform into one that encourages an exchange of good…