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Water resource management, delivery, and research are inhibited by fragmented data sources. It is nearly impossible for public officials to make informed planning decisions that benefit water wholesalers, retailers, and consumers or to efficiently operate water systems beyond their physical and organizational boundaries. Organizations operate water systems within their service areas in ways that may be suboptimal for the sustainable management of the resource as a whole. The organizations make decisions on the basis of available data, which may be incomplete or in the wrong spatial or temporal scale. Data is not shared with other organizations whose decisions and conclusions could be improved with more complete information. This can lead to more complex and fragmented water management decision-making processes that do not address the entire water resource. Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) in California and the SmartBay project in Ireland use advanced information technology to create collaboration platforms enabling multi-organizational management of water resources, based on information availability and sharing. While SCWA is deploying such a platform for pilot testing in early 2011 and SmartBay has been operating since late 2008, both projects provide the opportunity to overview the core components and technologies of collaboration platforms and the qualitative benefits (environmental, economic, financial, and political) that can result for water resource management.
Date of Publication: Jan.-March 2011