Conflict resolution is at the frontier of some of humanity’s most difficult dilemmas. And the issue of water – conservation, rights, preservation and supply – is one of humanity’s biggest dilemmas. One of the most difficult lines to walk is the line between protecting natural life and protecting people’s livelihood. The example of the Klamath water releases shows how big these conflicts can get. In this case the conflict is also between two different ways of life – the tribes who depend on fishing and the farmers who live off the land.

The Need to Find a Better Way

In the Klamath River, dams will be dismantled and water flows will be released to prevent the salmon from getting parasites (a 2017 ruling provided for the release of the water). Farmers fearing drought tried to challenge the water releases earlier this year, but the judge pointed out that courts are not permitted to consider economic interests over the fate of endangered species. With global warming, drought is a very real issue. If the farmers do not have recourse in the courts, they will have to find a way to work with interests protecting the environment and fish. Rather than filing separate lawsuits, mediation provides a way to work together to plan the future of a whole area. Mediation uncovers solutions that parties simply don’t have access to without talking to each other. One example is the traditional knowledge of a tribal people in managing an ecosystem. Another is the science and engineering behind conservation and water releases. Then there is the economic impact on farmers, fishermen and tourism.

When parties are struggling to make sense of the future with scarce resources, mediation can promote cooperation. Mediation should be thought of as a resource that communities can use before conflict even begins. Its benefits include:

– Gathering data/sharing knowledge – Parties can share their data with each other to make a more comprehensive plan.
– Resolving conflict/preventing lawsuits – Using mediation, it’s possible to put money back into the community rather than community groups spending it on lawyers and court fees.
– Bringing communities together/protecting community way of life – Mediation can help communities come closer together and learn about different ways of life.
– Preparing for climate change and pioneering positive change – Climate change is a reality that many communities will have to face, even if conflicts aren’t immediately on the horizon. Communities who can make better plans protect future generations. They also set an example for other communities to follow.

Who We Are and How We Can Help

We are a group of well-educated mediators and negotiators with financial, legal, and psychological backgrounds who can analyze your land or water conflict, and provide win-win solution sets through analysis, consultation, mediation, or negotiation. Water is the basis for survival, so conflicts can quickly become emotional. We recognize that conflicts about water rights can have deep historical roots and require a thorough analysis of sustainable solutions, drawing on the knowledge of experts and parties alike. By employing careful scientific, mathematical, and legal knowledge, recognizing the important values and interests of all stakeholders, utilizing practical techniques informed by game theory, psychology, and relying on solid strategic and tactical techniques, we can help any and all parties achieve their goals. This approach to conflict avoids costly and protracted litigation, creates sustainable solutions, and develops long-lasting relationships that can pave the way for increased co-operation and better policy on water management and rights. You can visit us at our offices in Campbell, CA, Irvine, CA and San Diego, CA. We can also be reached by Telephone, Zoom or Facetime. Mediation can be arranged either in person or remotely. We are available 7 days a week and at urgent notice. Please contact us to see how we can help.

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