11 Nat. Resources J. 102 (1971)
Patterns of Politics in Water Resources Development

handle is hein.journals/narj11 and id is 120 raw text is: PATTERNS OF POLITICS IN WATER
RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
HELEN INGRAM*
While economists and engineers have fairly concrete and explicit
criteria for judging water projects as economically justifiable and
technically feasible, political scientists have yet to provide compar-
able insight into the process by which water development becomes
politically viable. The basic intention here is to develop a model of
the political rationality of water policy, a frame of reference quite
different from economics or engineering. It entails looking at things
in political terms, i.e., as the activist, seeking to influence public
policy, must see them.
A political activist cannot simply make judgments, he must con-
cern himself with constructing support for his decisions. He must
take care of his ability to influence, and the consequences of actions
and events upon his future ability to influence. He is a finely tuned
instrument to measure political rationality, which is the process of
balancing support generated for a proposal against opposition
aroused by it.' For a political activist, a rational decision involves
minimal expenditure of the resources he has to influence and
maximum return of credit and obligations which strengthen his posi-
tion in decisions to come.
The model in this paper represents the pattern of politics in water
resource development, mapping the way in which water issues are
perceived onto the risks and rewards confronted by activists in mak-
ing decisions. It will link the kinds of activists who have a stake in
water policy to the particular arena where political rationality, or the
extent of support for a proposal, is tested. Policy making in our
political system requires that proposals be consented to or
legitimized through established procedures in institutions which have
authority. The model will indicate the relationship among activists in
the process of creating sufficient support to obtain consent. It will
connect this support building relationship to the stakes of activists
involved and the setting or political arena in which they operate.
*Staff Political Scientist, National Water Commission; member, University of New
Mexico Advisory Council of the Natural Resources Journal; Former Professor of Political
Science, University of New Mexico.
1. A. Wildavsky, The Political Economy of Efficiency: Cost Benefit Analysis, Systems
Analysis and Program Budgeting, in Political Science and Public Policy, 78-83 (A. Ranney
ed. 1968).

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