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Water Rights and Policy

Marushka GroganMarushka Grogan 09F’s Div III involves the development of a handbook intended for use by communities across the country facing conflicts over water rights.

"There are a lot of communities facing water conflicts that have no preparation for it," said Grogan. "The water resources handbook is geared towards communities and people without legal experience with a conflict."

Initially planning to complete the book during Div III, Grogan now sees it as at least a five-year project involving collaborators and peer reviews. Still, the background information she’s gathered has built a solid foundation for the research and allowed her to be involved in numerous water resource-based projects during her time at Hampshire.

Grogan first became interested in how water impacts societies after taking biology professor Lynn Miller's course Natural History of Infectious Disease. "I became aware of how people's interactions with water shape communities," said Grogan. She completed a Division II project, entitled Water, Social Design, and Public Health, working with Miller and applied design professor Donna Cohn, who served as the committee chair.

In academic year 2011/12, Grogan taught a two-semester water studies course through Hampshire’s Experimental Program in Education and Community (EPEC). The multidisciplinary course drew students whose interests ranged from photography and design to political activism, but all with some sort of tie to water. During the second semester, the class organized the Five College Water Symposium, which was held in conjunction with a Five College Riverscaping Conference that focused on innovative ways of interacting with the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts.

That same year, in an independent study, Grogan researched Native American water rights in the southwest. She then continued to study how different U.S. regions dealt with water rights and how this shaped national water policy.

Using one of the legal disputes she researched as a case study, Grogan in January 2013 developed a water workshop for the Hampshire community that was funded through a President's grant for collaborative work. She co-taught the workshop with her Div III committee, Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Michael Klare and hydrology professor Christina Cianfrani. "It was a great way to work with them one-on-one," said Grogan.

In addition to the handbook, Grogan's Div III provides an overview of current U.S. water policy and the four major systems of water rights in different parts of the country. It also looks at possible future trends.

Grogan plans to attend graduate school, but will first gain some work experience, possibly in her home city of Indianapolis. "They're starting to have some backyard water conflicts in the aftermath of the big drought in the Midwest this past summer, and I'd love to help work on some of those," she said.

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