Integrating Social With Biophysical Success Indicators for Land and Water Reclamation

In reclamation of water waste, there has been an increasing endorsement of passive, rather than active, wetland design. Passive wetlands are both cheaper to create and stay in place longer, which normally focus on processing of contaminated water and land via equipment and cleaning up the land via removal. Based on the specific configuration of feature, several standard types of designs are evident in the literature, ranging from completely natural and passive designs through constructed surface and subsurface designs and on to constructed natural wetlands. A less studied and integrated aspect of wetland design is how stakeholders view and engage with different designs. 

Using current theory and practice, an experiment to compare the impact of using townhall (standard) versus collaborative (non-standard) design processes on the social and biophysical features of those wetland designs has been piloted and run. Whether better quality biophysical and social design outcomes can be created via the non-standard collaborative process is being assessed. Preliminary results suggest the answer is no. Trade offs of design elements are subtle and not easily optimized by either process, yet the processes have statistically significant different effects. The next stage is to work with stakeholders in design processes for pilot wetlands in the field to gain and deeper understanding of how to integrate biophysical and social elements and outcomes, and thereby improve reclamation success.