Bram Noble


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Incorporating social dimensions in hydrological and water quality modeling to evaluate the effectiveness of agricultural beneficial management practices in a Prairie River Basin
Lori Bradford, Anuja Thapa, A. P. Duffy, Elmira Hassanzadeh, Graham Strickert, Bram Noble, Karl–Erich Lindenschmidt
Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Volume 27, Issue 13

There is growing interest to develop processes for creating user-informed watershed scale models of hydrology and water quality and to assist in decision-making for balanced policies for managing watersheds. Watershed models can be enhanced with the incorporation of social dimensions of watershed management as brought forward by participants such as the perspectives, values, and norms of people that depend on the land, water, and ecosystems for sustenance, economies, and overall wellbeing. In this work, we explore the value of combining both qualitative and quantitative methods and social science data to enhance salience and legitimacy of watershed models so that end-users are more engaged. We discuss pilot testing and engagement workshops for building and testing a systems dynamics model of the Qu'Appelle Valley to gather insights from local farmers and understand their perceptions of Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs). Mixed-method workshops with agricultural producers in the Qu'Appelle Watershed gathered feedback on the developing model and the incorporation of social determinants affecting decision-making. Analysis of focus groups and factor analysis of Q-sorts were used to identify the desired components of the model, and whether it supported farmers' understanding of the potential effects of BMPs on water quality. We explored farmers' engagement with models testing BMPs and the potential of incorporating their decision processes within the model itself. Finally, we discuss the reception of the process and the practicality of the approach in providing legitimate and credible decision support tools for a community of farmers.

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A framework for engaging stakeholders in water quality modeling and management: Application to the Qu'Appelle River Basin, Canada
Elmira Hassanzadeh, Graham Strickert, L. A. Morales-Marín, Bram Noble, Helen M. Baulch, Etienne Shupena-Soulodre, Karl–Erich Lindenschmidt
Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 231

Water quality is increasingly at risk due to nutrient pollution entering river systems from cities, industrial zones and agricultural areas. Agricultural activities are typically the largest non-point source of water pollution. The dynamics of agricultural impacts on water quality are complex and stem from the decisions and activities of multiple stakeholders, often with diverse business plans, values, and attitudes towards practices that can improve water quality. This study proposes a framework to understand and incorporate stakeholders' viewpoints into water quality modeling and management. The framework was applied to the Qu'Appelle River Basin, Saskatchewan, Canada. Q-methodology was used to understand viewpoints of stakeholders, namely agricultural producers (annual croppers, cattle producers, mixed farmers) and cottage owners, regarding a range of agricultural Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that can improve water quality, and to identify their preferred BMPs. A System Dynamics (SD) approach was employed to develop a transparent and user-friendly water quality model, SD-Qu'Appelle, to simulate nutrient loads in the region before and after implementation of stakeholder identified BMPs. The SD-Qu'Appelle was used in real-time engagement of stakeholders in model simulations to demonstrate and explore the potential effects of different BMPs in mitigating water pollution. Stakeholder perspectives were explored to understand the functionality and value of the SD-Qu'Appelle, preferred policies and potential barriers to BMP implementation on their land. Results show that although there are differences between viewpoints of stakeholders, they identified wetland restoration/retention, flow and erosion control, and relocation of corrals near creeks to sites more distant from waterways as the most effective BMPs for improving water quality. Economics was identified as a primary factor that causes agricultural producers to either accept or refuse the implementation of BMPs. Agricultural producers believe that incentives rather than regulations are the best policies for increasing the adoption of BMPs. Overall, stakeholders indicated the SD-Qu'Appelle had considerable value for water quality management and provided a set of recommendations to improve the model.

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Flood Risk Management in Canada’s Prairie Provinces: an Analysis of Decision-Maker Priorities and Policy Preferences
Alasdair Morrison, Bram Noble, Cherie J. Westbrook
Environmental Management, Volume 64, Issue 5

If the aim of flood risk management (FRM) is to increase society’s resilience to floods, then a holistic treatment of flood risk is required that addresses flood prevention, defence, mitigation, preparation, and response and recovery. Progressing resilience-based management to flood risk requires both diversity and coordination of policy across multiple jurisdictions. Decision makers and the types of FRM policy decisions they make play a key role in implementing FRM policies and strategies that progress flood resilience. This paper explores how policy preferences held by FRM decision makers relate to the characteristics of resilient FRM policy. The research was conducted in three flood-prone provinces in western Canada using a multi-criteria analytical approach. The results show that while decision maker FRM priorities are similar across the Canadian Prairies, their preferred FRM policies differ. Further, preferred FRM policies were largely resistance-based and influenced at least as much by flood experiences and perceptions of flood risk as by more obvious administrative pressures such as cost, public acceptability, and environmental protection. Several observations emerge from these results for advancing a coordinated, diversified approach to FRM which is required for resilience, both for western Canada and for FRM more broadly.


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Flood risk management in the Canadian prairie provinces: Defaulting towards flood resistance and recovery versus resilience
Alasdair Morrison, Bram Noble, Cherie J. Westbrook
Canadian Water Resources Journal / Revue canadienne des ressources hydriques, Volume 43, Issue 1

Major flood events are likely to happen more frequently and be more severe under changing land use and climatic conditions. Adapting to floods using resilience-based flood risk management (FRM) pol...