SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1988

Integrated Resource Management: The Challenge of the Next Ten Years


The past ten years have been notable because of the development of the process of hazard evaluation in which chemical fate was coupled in a systematic and orderly way with biological effects. This development was amplified in the five-book Pellston series that began with Estimating the Hazard of Chemical Substances to Aquatic Life, ASTM STP 657 and in the ASTM Aquatic Toxicology and Hazard Assessment series, of which this is the 10th volume. The future, however, is intriguing, so my comments will focus on that.

The next ten years will bring a concerted effort to use the results of hazard evaluation and aquatic toxicology, as well as other types of environmental and ecological information, in the process of integrated resource management. The purpose of the hazard assessment activities of Committee E-47 is to help prevent ecosystem damage. The purpose of integrated resource management, on the other hand, is to optimize performance of the ecosystem, which requires different information and a different management strategy than hazard assessment. Although much is written about the management of large natural systems such as drainage basins, little effective action has been taken. Institutional arrangements fragment the responsibility so that federal and state regulatory agencies and other organizations are often at odds and sometimes in direct conflict in their attempts to optimize that portion of resource management assigned to them.

Integrated resource management will require that some of the enormous resources now being spent on litigation be redirected into problem solving. Some of the prescriptive regulations, which now pit the regulators against the regulated in such ways that obvious solutions to simple problems cannot be implemented, must be changed. Since there is very little scientific and institutional information about integrated resource management, both of which will be essential for systems level quality control, and since funding to generate this information is not likely to come from traditional sources, some acknowledgement of the value of generating this information must be incorporated in the planning.

It is essential that committees of standards-setting organizations engaged in environmental assessment and related activities become much more active in developing integrated resource management approaches. Unless this is done soon and skillfully, even the finest standard methods will not be used effectively. Without integrated resource management, information will be fragmented, often inappropriate for the decision being made, or in apparent conflict with other equally valid information. In short, those engaged in environmental surveillance, monitoring, and hazard prediction must pay more attention to the structure of the management systems into which their methods will flow.

Author Information

Cairns, J
University Center for Environmental and Hazardous Materials Studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA
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Developed by Committee: E47
Pages: 559–566
DOI: 10.1520/STP34068S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5043-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0978-0