2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM

Science, Engineering, and the Perception of RIVER Restoration

BAKER, Victor R., Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, Univ of Arizona, Building 11 - Room 122, Tucson, AZ 85721-0011, baker@hwr.arizona.edu

At the dawn of scholarly thinking, Heraclitus (ca. 535-475 BC) observed that one cannot step twice into the same river. Every river is unique, and each of their limitless sections and components continually change through complex interconnection with one another. For this reason, any thought of recreating or emulating fluvial form and function at some artificially chosen time and location requires a delicate balance among (1) the ethical dimensions of what society wants, (2) the logical inquiry into what is, was, and might be (science), and (3) the logical implementation of what can be created in regard to (1) (engineering). Moreover, science will only occur if the created forms and functions are continually evaluated to see if they are indeed maintained through time in appropriate relationship to their connected forms and functions, upstream and downstream, from physical to ecological, and ultimately in regard to the desired human interactions. In addition, as in all environmental restoration (Baker, 2000), direct perception by society is key to effective policy. This means that local discoveries by interpretive, historical sciences, including geomorphology, paleohydrology, and ecology, need to be communicated during the initial stages of perception (Baker, 1998), and prior to making assumptions about the “system” that is to be recreated or emulated by employing the increasingly powerful tools of the normative/predictive sciences. These issues are well illustrated by the dynamically changing fluvial systems of the southwestern U.S., ranging from the continuously flowing Colorado River to the ephemeral channels of formerly riparian corridors.

Baker, V.R., 1998, Hydrological understanding and societal action: Jour. American Water Resources Assoc., v. 34, no. 4, p. 819-825.

Baker, V.R., 2000, Science, engineering and the perception of environmental restoration: Arizona Law Review, v. 42, no. 2, p. 287-295.

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