The future of the American West depends on sustainable water resource governance. A variety of uncertainties associated with limited freshwater supplies, population growth, land use change, drought, and climate change impacts present substantial challenges. To inform decision making, managers are adopting new techniques such as scenario planning to understand how water resources might change and what practices can support economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Scenario planning can be informed by understanding the normative future preferences of a variety of stakeholders, including decision makers, who influence water governance. This article presents a survey of central Arizona decision makers to understand their visions for a desirable future for the water system in terms of supply, delivery, demand, outflow, and crosscutting activities. Principle components analysis is used to identify patterns underlying responses about preferences for each domain of the system and correlation analysis is used to evaluate associations between themes across the domains. The results reveal two distinct visions for water in central Arizona—one in which water experts and policy makers pursue supply augmentation to serve metropolitan development, and another in which broadened public engagement is used in conjunction with policy tools to reduce water consumption, restore ecosystem services, and limit metropolitan expansion. The results of this survey will inform the development of a set of normative scenarios for use in exploratory modeling and anticipatory governance activities.
Environmental Practice 17: 25–35 (2015)