Skip to main content

Watershed Management and Public Health: An Exploration of the Intersection of Two Fields as Reported in the Literature from 2000 to 2010

Abstract

Watersheds are settings for health and well-being that have a great deal to offer the public health community due to the correspondence between the spatial form of the watershed unit and the importance to health and well-being of water. However, managing watersheds for human health and well-being requires the ability to move beyond typical reductionist approaches toward more holistic methods. Health and well-being are emergent properties of inter-related social and biophysical processes. This paper characterizes points of connection and integration between watershed management and public health and tests a new conceptual model, the Watershed Governance Prism, to determine the prevalence in peer-reviewed literature of different perspectives relating to watersheds and public health. We conducted an initial search of academic databases for papers that addressed the interface between watershed management (or governance) and public health themes. We then generated a sample of these papers and undertook a collaborative analysis informed by the Watershed Governance Prism. Our analysis found that although these manuscripts dealt with a range of biophysical and social determinants of health, there was a tendency for social factors and health outcomes to be framed as context only for these studies, rather than form the core of the relationships being investigated. At least one cluster of papers emerged from this analysis that represented a cohesive perspective on watershed governance and health; “Perspective B” on the Watershed Governance Prism, “water governance for ecosystems and well-being,” was dominant. Overall, the integration of watershed management/governance and public health is in its infancy.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. Only relationships significant at P = 0.05 or less are shown. The Phi Coefficient is interpreted in the same manner and Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient. We consider relationships with coefficient magnitudes less than ±0.7 to be “moderate” and less than ±0.4 to be “weak.”

References

  • Ahern M, Kovats R, Wilkinson P, Few R, Matthies F (2005) Global health impacts of floods: epidemiologic evidence. Epidemiol Rev 27:36–46

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ali SH (2004) A socio-ecological autopsy of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada. Social science & medicine 58 (12):2601–2612. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2003.09.013

  • Bavington D (2002) Managerial ecology and its discontents: exploring the complexity of control, careful use and coping in resource and environmental management. Environments 30(3):3–21

    Google Scholar 

  • Berkes F (2003) Alternatives to conventional management: lessons from small-scale fisheries. Environments 31(1):5–19

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown VA, Harris J, Russel J (2010) Tackling wicked problems: through the transdisciplinary imagination. Earthscan, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Bryant RB, Veith TL, Kleinman PJA, Gburek WJ (2008) Cannonsville Reservoir and Town Brook watersheds: documenting conservation efforts to protect New York City’s drinking water. J Soil Water Conserv 63(6):339–344. doi:10.2489/jswc.63.6.339

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bunch MJ, McCarthy D, Waltner-Toews D (2008) A family of origin of an ecosystem approach to managing for sustainability. In: Waltner-Toews D, Kay JJ, Lister NM (eds) The ecosystem approach: complexity, uncertainty, and managing for sustainability. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 125–138

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Bunch MJ, Morrison KE, Parkes MW, Venema HD (2011) Promoting health and well-being by managing for social-ecological resilience: The potential of integrating ecohealth and water resources management approaches. Ecology and society 16 (1):6. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol16/iss11/art16/

  • Burke TA, Litt JS, Fox MA (2000) Linking public health and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Environ Res 82(2):143–149. doi:10.1006/enrs.1999.3982

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cadham JC, Thomas RL, Khawlie M, Kawass I (2005) Environmental management of the waters of the El-Kabir River and the associated Akkar watershed. Lakes Reserv: Res Manag 10(2):141–146. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1770.2005.00268.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell K, Boyd CP (2009) Coping and resilience in farming families affected by drought. Rural remote health 9 (2):1088: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewaust.asp?ArticleID=1088

  • Carayol N, Nguyen Thi TU (2004) Why do academic scientists engage in interdisciplinary research? Res Eval 14(1):70–79

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chapman J (2004) System failure: why governments must learn to think differently. Demos, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Charron D (2012a) Ecosystem approaches to health for a global sustainability agenda. EcoHealth 9(3):256–266. doi:10.1007/s10393-012-0791-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Charron DE (ed) (2012b) Ecohealth research in practice: innovative applications of an ecosystem approach to health. insight and innovation in international development. Springer and International Development Research Centre, Ottawa

    Google Scholar 

  • Chen B (2009) Water pollution simulation and health risk assessment through a refined contaminant transport model. Water Air Soil Pollut 200(1):323–339. doi:10.1007/s11270-008-9915-5

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Corvalan C, Hales S, McMichael A (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being: health synthesis. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment WHO, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  • Davies J-M, Mazumder A (2003) Health and environmental policy issues in Canada: the role of watershed management in sustaining clean drinking water quality at surface sources. J Environ Manag 68(3):273–286. doi:10.1016/s0301-4797(03)00070-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dooris M, Poland B, Kolbe L, Leeuw Ed, McCall D, Wharf-Higgins J (2007) Healthy settings building evidence for the effectiveness of whole system health promotion-challenges and future directions (Section 4). In: McQueen DV, Jones CM (eds) Global perspectives on health promotion effectiveness. Springer Science and Business Media, New York, pp 327–352

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Edmond J (2008) Conservation international’s population, health and environment program. Basins Coasts 2(3):11–17

    Google Scholar 

  • Eleria A, Vogel RM (2005) Predicting fecal coliform bacteria levels in the Charles River, Massachusetts, USA. JAWRA 41(5):1195–1209. doi:10.1111/j.1752-1688.2005.tb03794.x

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • ESSA (1982) Review and evaluation of adaptive environmental assessment and management. Environment Canada, Vancouver

    Google Scholar 

  • Falkenmark M, Folke C (2002) The ethics of socio-ecohydrological catchment management: towards hydrosolodarity. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 6:1–9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Innes JE, Booher DE (2010) Planning with complexity: an introduction to collaborative rationality for public policy. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Last J (2007) A dictionary of public health. Oxford University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • McCammon BP (1994) Introduction to Watershed Analysis. Watershed Management Council Newsletter 6 (2):http://www.watershed.org/?q=node/187

  • Moberg F, Folke C (1999) Ecological goods and services of coral reef ecosystems. Ecol Econ 29(2):215–233

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moiseenko TI, Voinov AA, Megorsky VV, Gashkina NA, Kudriavtseva LP, Vandish OI, Sharov AN, Sharova Y, Koroleva IN (2006) Ecosystem and human health assessment to define environmental management strategies: the case of long-term human impacts on an Arctic lake. Sci Total Environ 369(1–3):1–20. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.06.009

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morrison KE, Parkes MW, Hallstrom LH, Neudoerffer RC, Bunch MJ, Venema HD (2012) Ecohealth and watersheds: watersheds as settings for health and well-being in Canada. Network for ecosystem sustainability and health publication series, no. 3. Network for Ecosystem Sustainability and Health and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg

    Google Scholar 

  • Parkes MW, Horwitz P (2009) Water, ecology and health: ecosystems as settings for promoting health and sustainability. Health Promot Int 24(1):94–102. doi:10.1093/heapro/dan044

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parkes MW, Panelli R, Weinstein P (2003) Converging paradigms for environmental health theory and practice. Environ Health Perspect 111:669–675

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parkes MW, Morrison KE, Bunch MJ, Venema HD (2008) Ecohealth and watersheds: ecosystem approaches to re-integrate water resources management with health and well-being. Network for ecosystem sustainability and health publication series. International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg

    Google Scholar 

  • Parkes MW, Morrison KE, Bunch MJ, Venema HD (2010) Towards integrated governance for water, health and social-ecological systems: the watershed governance prism. Glob Environ Chang 20(4):693–704

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Penning-Rowsell E, Tapsell S, Wilson T (2005) Key Policy Implications of the Health Effects of Floods. In: Kirch W, Bertollini R, Menne B (eds) Extreme Weather Events and Public Health Responses, vol 4. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 207–223. doi:10.1007/3-540-28862-7_20

  • Pohl C, Hadorn GH (2008) Methodological challenges of transdisciplinary research. Nat Sci Soc 16:111–121

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rondinelli DA (1993a) Development projects as policy experiments: an adaptive approach to development administration, 2nd edn. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Rondinelli DA (1993b) Strategic and results-based management in CIDA: reflections on the process

  • Roy A, Wenger S, Fletcher T, Walsh C, Ladson A, Shuster W, Thurston H, Brown R (2008) Impediments and solutions to sustainable, watershed-scale urban stormwater management: lessons from Australia and the United States. Environ Manag 42(2):344–359. doi:10.1007/s00267-008-9119-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ryan U, Read C, Hawkins P, Warnecke M, Swanson P, Griffith M, Deere D, Cunningham M, Cox P (2005) Genotypes of Cryptosporidium from Sydney water catchment areas. J Appl Microbiol 98(5):1221–1229. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2672.2005.02562.x

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Serrano L, DeLorenzo ME (2008) Water quality and restoration in a coastal subdivision stormwater pond. J Environ Manag 88(1):43–52. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.01.025

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Siedlok F, Hibbert P (2013) The organization of interdisciplinary research: modes, drivers and barriers. Int J Manag Rev. doi:10.1111/ijmr.12016

    Google Scholar 

  • Sischo WM, Atwill ER, Lanyon LE, George J (2000) Cryptosporidia on dairy farms and the role these farms may have in contaminating surface water supplies in the northeastern United States. Prev Vet Med 43(4):253–267. doi:10.1016/s0167-5877(99)00107-5

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tapsell SM, Penning-Rowsell EC, Tunstall SM, Wilson TL (2002) Vulnerability to flooding: health and social dimensions. Philos Trans R Soc A 360(1796):1511–1525

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tunstall S, Tapsell S, Green C, Floyd P, George C (2006) The health effects of flooding: social research results from England and Wales. J Water Health 4(3):365–380

    Google Scholar 

  • Webb J, Mergler D, Parkes MW, Saint-Charles J, Spiegel J, Waltner-Toews D, Yassi A, Woollard RF (2010) Tools for thoughtful action: the role of ecosystem approaches to health in enhancing public health. Can J Public Health 101(6):439–441

    Google Scholar 

  • WHO (1948) Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19–22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 states. Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948, New York

  • WHO (1986) Ottawa charter for health promotion. World Health Organization, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

Thanks are extended to Marlene Roy and Casey McConnell for their contributions in early stages of this project. This project was undertaken with funding support from the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Such support does not indicate endorsement by IISD of the contents of this material.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Martin J. Bunch.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bunch, M.J., Parkes, M., Zubrycki, K. et al. Watershed Management and Public Health: An Exploration of the Intersection of Two Fields as Reported in the Literature from 2000 to 2010. Environmental Management 54, 240–254 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-014-0301-3

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-014-0301-3

Keywords

  • Watershed management
  • Catchment management
  • Watershed governance
  • Health and well-being
  • Public health
  • Water governance prism
  • Ecohealth
  • Ecosystem approach to human health and well-being