Political pitfalls of integrated watershed management

William Blomquist, Edella Schlager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

228 Scopus citations


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 subwatershed communities of interest. An example of a small Southern California watershed is used to highlight the political issues inherent in attempts at watershed management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-117
Number of pages17
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Consensus decision making
  • Integrated water resources management
  • Political decision making
  • Watershed management
  • Watershed organizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Political pitfalls of integrated watershed management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this