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cooperative modeling team

In an effort to establish an open and transparent modeling process a “cooperative modeling team” was created consisting of representatives from each major basin stakeholder group. Specifically, we have representatives from the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and Southwest Water Planning Group, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (lead federal agency), U.S. Fish and Wildlife (responsible for Endanger Species Act compliance), major municipalities, irrigated agriculture, ranching and the environment. Modelers from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) are responsible for model development, while a professional facilitator and meeting note taker are responsible for managing the flow of each meeting. In all, there are roughly 20 active members on the team.

The cooperative modeling team was formed in September of 2005 and has been meeting since this time. Meetings are held every other Wednesday morning. Because of the wide geographic dispersion of the team members meetings are held via web/voice conferencing. In addition, quarterly face to face meetings coinciding with the monthly SWPG meetings are held to help build a sense of team among the members while giving the general public an opportunity to stay informed and give feedback into the process.

At the meetings, the team helps the modelers with system conceptualization, identification of subject expertise, data sources, and provides feedback on the modeling efforts. Very significantly, the team raises important modeling considerations based on the experience and concerns of their constituency. Between meetings the SNL modelers incorporate information gleamed from the team into the model, which is then reviewed by the team at subsequent meetings.

A project website provides another vehicle for team interaction. Meeting notes, data, maps, and literature which are of interest to the program are uploaded to this site by any team member. In this way, all team members can keep up to speed on the latest project developments. Although access to draft data and models is restricted to the modeling team all other information is fully available to the public. Thus, this website provides a means for the broader public to stay informed on model progress.

While time consuming and difficult, this approach ensures that stakeholders in the four-county area have an opportunity to see that their interests are included in the model. The approach also allows any interested individual to learn about how the model is built and how it works. This transparency is believed to be a key for developing model credibility and usefulness.