Regional Watershed Management Collaboratory

IMAGINE   A circle of people in the large studio at KLRN who have come together to put the final touches on the “Regional Watershed Management Plan.” 

They are looking at a computer generated 4D (3D plus time) map of the watershed area between the Nueces and Guadalupe rivers from the rivers sources on top of Edwards escarpment to the north to the Gulf on the south, projected on a large screen. 

The map is linked to the regional watershed GRID, maintained and facilitated by graduate students at UTSA and Southwest Research Institute.  The map is alive, the rich and very large datasets, which have been gathered by science students, contain such meta databases as a watershed monitoring database.  The streambeds are virtual with virtual flowing water, virtual chemistry, virtual indicator species and comprehensive biological inventories. Teams of high school science students who live along the creeks and streams have collected the data.

The very large dataset for the virtual reality model has been downloaded from KLRN’s broadcast signal using inexpensive TV receiver boxes plugged into networked computers by groups in regional Technologies Centers, technology enabled meeting rooms, and home computers.  This enables even those with low speed connections to have full interactive participation.

Prior to the event, teams of participants around the region have been meeting in tech enabled meeting rooms, and virtually on the net,  to prepare positions.  Some have

been in contact with watershed experts from around the world through ISOC’s global environmental network  They are using a cost visualization tool, a kind of budget odometer,  which estimates  the costs of their decisions.

This general session of the regional watershed management group will be held to summarize efforts, reconcile differences using the 4D watershed model and to make a decision that will be put to the voters in the general election   The group represents a diverse cross-section of regional thought. They are using a cutting edge but economical set of technologies and methods that have been evaluated and certified by the Community Media Lab.  

A good-natured rivalry has grown among competing points of view about the most economical and just solution to the challenges of protecting and sharing the regions water. Using the model they will try out different versions of solutions using the  user friendly public database.   The information is available to everyone in the region via the Internet.   The session will be web-cast live and video-taped summary will be broadcast by KLRN. 

Everyone can watch the creation of the plan.  The resulting plan or plans will be  easy to understand and will be offered to regional voters.