Table 1. Translation of international whitewater classification to classification of institutional and physical capacity to engage in adaptive management (AM).

Classification system
I II III IV V VI
International whitewater classification
Moving water with a few riffles and small waves. Few or no obstructions Easy rapids with smaller waves, clear channels that are obvious without scouting. Some maneuvering might be required Rapids with high, irregular waves. Narrow passages that often require precise maneuvering Long, difficult rapids with constricted passages that often require complex maneuvering in turbulent water. The course may be hard to determine and scouting is often necessary Extremely difficult, long, and very violent rapids with highly congested routes, which should be scouted from shore. Rescue conditions are difficult, and there is a significant hazard to life in the event of a mishap. The upper limit of what is possible in a commercial raft The difficulties of Class V carried to the extreme. Nearly impossible and very dangerous. For teams of experts only. Involves risk of life. Class VI rapids are not commercially passable
Classification of physical and institutional capacity to engage in AM
No problem. Capacity exists to engage in AM Conditions generally support AM, but “some maneuvering” such as public education or management authorizations that are easily obtained may be necessary. Routine adjustments to infrastructure AM possible without structural changes to the social-ecological system (SES), but careful groundwork must be done (e.g., promulgating new regulations or leasing water rights) Capacity must be created to support AM. Making these changes will take considerable effort and maneuvering (e.g., congressional appropriations or need to assess physical integrity of dam infrastructure) Significant changes to social-ecological system necessary to create capacity for AM (e.g., substantive legislative change or reconfiguration of dam) Extremely difficult to create capacity. Fundamental changes to social-ecological system needed (e.g., international treaty renegotiation, constitutional amendments or dam removal)