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Local Communities, Policy Prescriptions, and Watershed Management in Arizona, California, and Colorado

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Schlager, Edella; Blomquist, William
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/2133
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: North America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
water resources
polycentricity
institutional analysis
watersheds--comparative analysis
Abstract: "For the past 25 years, since the National Water Commission published its final report, 'Water Policies for the Future,' prescriptions of the water policy literature have centered upon two themes: 1) 'the watershed' is the appropriate scale for organizing water resource management--although watersheds are regions to which political jurisdictions almost never correspond--because all water sources and uses within a watershed are interrelated; and 2) since watershed-scale decision-making structures do not exist to begin with, they should be created as soon as possible to bring together all 'stakeholders' and produce integrated watershed management plans that can be implemented efficiently, preferably through some form of watershed management authority. Despite the consistency of the message over the last quarter-century, the gap between prescription and practice is wide. On the other hand, our observation of water resource management activities in the western states has revealed that the development of regional watershed management is in fact occurring in several places, but in an altogether different manner--watershed-scale decision-making arrangements and management activities are being assembled in a variety of decentralized and polycentric forms that involve both linked and nested relationships among smaller organizations. Drawing upon political economy and institutional analysis literature, the paper provides a straightforward conceptual and analytical presentation to account for incremental and decentralized approaches to the development of regional-scale institutions as represented in four watersheds in California and Colorado."

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