Arkansas Basin Roundtable

It is the mission of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable (to be developed) ........................................

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Does the Roundtable have any real value

Although we accomplished our first objective of setting Bylaws by their approval at our last Basin Roundtable meeting (we accomplished our second objective by electing our IBCC representatives earlier), the issue was raised about what we are doing in the Roundtable.

Having just read the "Agreements Between Roundtables" Issue Paper that comes from the second meeting of the IBCC, I thought there were several items salient to the discussion of the potential value of the Roundtable process. Following is the last section of that Issue Paper on "Value Added" that may be helpful in discussing what we are doing here. SeEtta:

"Value Added
Entities already have the power to enter into negotiated agreements and the Interbasin Compact Process does not provide regulatory or binding powers to the roundtables or the IBCC. So what value does this process add? The Interbasin Compact Process achieves a number of objectives adding value to authorities that already exist:

· Organizational structure
Although entities have always had the power to enter into negotiated agreements, there has never been an organizational structure through which to approach negotiations. The roundtables and the IBCC offer this forum and an organizational structure which entities can choose to use.

· Political support
Even though roundtables do not have regulatory or binding authority, they do represent a strong political base. Because of the diversity of interests represented on the roundtables, agreements reached through this process will have the value of early input from many parties, and should have broad support.

·Alternative venue
Roundtables and the IBCC provide an alternative venue to address issues of concern surrounding a water deal/project. Historically, issues of concern have been raised either in water court or through a permitting process. As a deal or project reached the point where a permit or action in water court was needed, entities with concerns would raise those issues as objectors. This process has proved costly and time consuming. The Interbasin Compact Process does not replace the jurisdiction of the courts or change permitting authority; but if concerns of would be objectors are dealt with through the Interbasin Compact Process, the time and cost of permitting and court proceedings may be reduced.
· Trust
In order to enter negotiations entities need to conclude that they will be better off negotiating than not negotiating. They also need to conclude that their needs will not be subordinated. The openness and broad-based participation of the Interbasin Compact Process fosters this.

· Resources
Negotiating entities often have a disparity of resources and information. The Interbasin Compact Process can offer the resources and common information basis to allow productive negotiations."