Political Pitfalls of Integrated Watershed Management
Society and Natural Resources. Volume 18, Number 2 (February 2005), pp. 101-117
Posted: 18 Jan 2015
Date Written: February 2005
Integrated watershed management, preferably under the direction of a watershed or basin management body, has been prescribed in the water policy literature and from other quarters for decades. Few instances may be found where this recommendation has been implemented. This gap between prescription and practice is sometimes attributed to politics, as a sort of nuisance to be overcome or avoided through rational comprehensive consensus-based decision making. Fundamental political considerations are inherent in water resources management, however, and are unavoidable even if the desire for watershed-scale decision making bodies were realized. Boundary definition, choices about decision-making arrangements, and issues of accountability will arise in any watershed, and may help to explain why watershed management has more often taken polycentric organizational forms composed of sub-watershed communities of interest. An example of a small Southern California watershed is used to highlight the political issues inherent in attempts at watershed management.
Keywords: watershed management, political decision making, consensus decision making, watershed organizations, integrated water resources management
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