EPA Science Inventory

Application of a Structured Decision Process for Informing Watershed Management Options in Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico

Citation:

Bradley, P., W. Fisher, B. Dyson, S. Yee, J. Carriger, G. Gambirazzio, J. Bousquin, AND E. Huertas. Application of a Structured Decision Process for Informing Watershed Management Options in Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-15/248, 2016.

Description:

The Guánica Bay watershed has been a priority for research, assessment and management since the 1970s, and since 2008, has been the focus of a U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) research initiative involving multiple agencies assembled to address the effect of land management decisions on coastal resources. Municipal and agricultural growth in the Guánica Bay watershed has provided social and economic value but has led to changes in forest cover (highly valued for biodiversity, endangered species and ecotourism), declining quality and availability of drinking water, and increased sediment and nutrient runoff that adversely affects coastal seagrasses, mangroves and coral reefs. Communities in the coastal region, such as the city of Guánica, rely partially on fishing and tourism economies, both of which are adversely affected by diminishing coastal water quality. In 2008, with funding from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, the Center for Watershed Protection developed a Watershed Management Plan (WMP) that included a suite of proposed management actions to reduce sediment runoff and its harmful effects in the coastal zone. The WMP served as the initial SDM decision context for EPA’s research to generate tools and procedures to better inform the decisions made across the watershed and to facilitate complementary actions.Application of SDM in Guánica Bay included archival research on social and economic history of the region and three workshops with stakeholders, experts and decision-makers to explore past decisions, characterize the decision landscape for the WMP, and better understand what stakeholders value in the watershed. The workshops included detailed discussions of the effects of human activity in the watershed on downstream environmental condition and ecosystem services. The outcomes of this investigation and these workshops include:• An improved understanding of multiple values and perceptions of citizens in different communities of the watershed, • A broader, more comprehensive decision landscape (beyond coral reef protection), and• A clearer understanding of the decision alternatives and how they might support or conflict with different objectivesThrough this process, EPA scientists and members of the USCRTF gained important insights to the value of engaging stakeholders early and often in the decision process. This report is intended to serve as a demonstration of the techniques and procedures used in SDM.The Guánica Bay watershed has been a priority for research, assessment and management since the 1970s, and since 2008, has been the focus of a U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) research initiative involving multiple agencies assembled to address the effect of land management decisions on coastal resources. Municipal and agricultural growth in the Guánica Bay watershed has provided social and economic value but has led to changes in forest cover (highly valued for biodiversity, endangered species and ecotourism), declining quality and availability of drinking water, and increased sediment and nutrient runoff that adversely affects coastal seagrasses, mangroves and coral reefs. Communities in the coastal region, such as the city of Guánica, rely partially on fishing and tourism economies, both of which are adversely affected by diminishing coastal water quality. In 2008, with funding from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, the Center for Watershed Protection developed a Watershed Management Plan (WMP) that included a suite of proposed management actions to reduce sediment runoff and its harmful effects in the coastal zone. The WMP served as the initial SDM decision context for EPA’s research to generate tools and procedures to better inform the decisions made across the watershed and to facilitate complementary actions.

Purpose/Objective:

This report demonstrates the application of a structured decision-making (SDM) process in the Guánica Bay watershed (GBW) in southwestern Puerto Rico. SDM is an organized approach for helping people, especially groups, identify creative options and make informed, defensible and transparent choices. It is particularly useful in complex decision situations. SDM has six steps: 1) clarify the decision context; 2) define objectives and evaluation criteria; 3) develop alternatives; 4) estimate consequences; 5) evaluate trade-offs and select alternatives and 6) implement, monitor and review. Key to the SDM process is the engagement of stakeholders, experts and decision-makers in a deliberative environment that deals rigorously with facts and values in decision-making. The report provides background information on SDM, Appendices with guidance on tools that can be used in applying SDM, a glossary and references.

URLs/Downloads:

Application of a Structured Decision Process for Informing Watershed Management Options in Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PUBLISHED REPORT/REPORT)
Product Published Date: 08/22/2016
Record Last Revised: 08/22/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 324903

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

GULF ECOLOGY DIVISION