Last month I posted about a recent effort by John Lavey of the Sonoran Institute to rearrange current state boundaries based upon watershed boundaries, something John Wesley Powell urged be done for the Western states. Below is the map Lavey produced; you can view details at the Mountain West News site.
Within a few days, alert reader Gerald J. 'Jerry' Kauffman (Director of the Water Resources Agency at the University of Delaware) sent me a paper he had written way back in 2002: 'What if… the United States of America were Based on Watersheds?' Water Policy 4:57-68 (2002)
Watersheds know no political boundaries. Except for the borders of a few countries and a few of the United States, this adage is true. Most watersheds include many state, provincial, and local governments and this “balkanization” is what makes the policy of watershed management so complex. Employing an historical exercise in counterfactualism, “what if” the United States were originally delineated on a watershed basis? “What if” each state was originally delineated by watershed, basin, or hydrologic planning unit? What would we learn as watershed managers from this exercise? This article reviews a selected history of watershed management in the USA as it relates to the many laws, regulations, and river basin commissions that were created to manage water resources that cross political boundaries. There are several lessons that watershed managers can learn from this exercise in counterfactualism. Watersheds form the best hydrological planning units for land, water, and ecosystem management. The concept of the river basin commission is a particularly effective way to manage water resources. Opportunities should be sought in the USA and overseas to create and recreate governments based on watersheds. Prospects should be explored to delineate the boundaries of sub-government jurisdictions such as water, sewer, stormwater, or planning districts based on watersheds.
Here is Kauffman's map (click to enlarge; a better copy is in the paper):
Read the entire article; Kauffman provides some interesting insights.
I think I see some theses here. Wonder what an aquifer-based map would look like?
"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." -- Mark Twain (thanks to Stan Patyrak)