The Social-Ecological Resilience of an Eastern Urban-Suburban Watershed: The Anacostia River Basin

62 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2015

See all articles by Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold

Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold

University of Louisville - Brandeis School of Law

Olivia Odom Green

US Environmental Protection Agency - Office of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory

Daniel DeCaro

University of Louisville

Alexandra Chase

University of Louisville

Jennifer-Grace Ewa

University of Denver

Date Written: March 25, 2015

Abstract

This article develops a new framework -- the institutional-social-ecological dynamics framework (ISED) -- to assess the relationships among institutional change, societal change, and ecological change in evaluating the current and likely future resilience of a small, Eastern, urban-suburban watershed: the Anacostia River watershed in DC and Maryland. A historical case study of the watershed explores the transformations of the watershed across key thresholds, including how legal, governance, and social institutions changed since European colonization and how these changes have affected the ecosystem functioning and social dynamics in the basin. Major drivers of change are identified, including the potential for climate change impact on the watershed and 3 possible futures for the watershed, ranging from hydro-ecological collapse to a greening of the watershed. Finally, watershed governance in the basin is evaluated to determine whether it is adaptive to change. The necessary features of adaptive governance in this particular basin, include watershed-focused governance, restoration and green infrastructure, land use regulation, public engagement, social justice, and monitoring and feedback loops. Law and planning play critical roles in all of these features. Whether the basin will continue to develop and improve its emerging elements of adaptive governance remains to be seen, but several key variables to watch are identified.

Keywords: watershed, river basin, adaptive governance, climate change, resilience, social-ecological resilience, Anacostia, urban water, green infrastructure, insitutional change, emergence, evolution, land use, low impact development, environmental justice, social justice, race, urban, systems, adaptation

Suggested Citation

Arnold, Craig (Tony) Anthony and Green, Olivia Odom and DeCaro, Daniel and Chase, Alexandra and Ewa, Jennifer-Grace, The Social-Ecological Resilience of an Eastern Urban-Suburban Watershed: The Anacostia River Basin (March 25, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2584968 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2584968

Craig (Tony) Anthony Arnold (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States
502-852-6388 (Phone)
502-852-0862 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.louisville.edu/law

Olivia Odom Green

US Environmental Protection Agency - Office of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory ( email )

26 West Martin Luther King
Cincinnati, OH 45268
United States

Daniel DeCaro

University of Louisville ( email )

Louisville, KY 40292
United States

Alexandra Chase

University of Louisville ( email )

Louisville, KY 40292
United States

Jennifer-Grace Ewa

University of Denver ( email )

2201 S. Gaylord St
Denver, CO 80208-2685
United States

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