Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2005ND86G

Assessing the Effectiveness of Local Water Institutions in Water Management

Institute: North Dakota
USGS Grant Number:
Year Established: 2005 Start Date: 2005-09-01 End Date: 2008-08-31
Total Federal Funds: $150,392 Total Non-Federal Funds: $150,393

Principal Investigators: Robert Hearne

Abstract: There are a variety of formal and informal local institutions that are involved with water resources management in rural areas. These governmental and non-governmental institutions have different objectives, different legal statuses, and different affiliations with state and local governments. Research is needed to assess the roles and effectiveness of local water institutions. As new initiatives to improve water quality are being proposed, it is important to assess the capacity of existing institutions to meet new and evolving needs. The objective of this research is to improve local management of water resources by providing policy makers and agencies with an improved understanding of the characteristics of successful local institutions. This research will focus on the Red River of the North basin in Minnesota and North Dakota although some assessment of Manitobas institutions will be included. The basin is fairly homogeneous in terms of land use and geographic features, but features three completely different sets of water law, which makes it an excellent case study of institutions. The overall objective of this research is to strengthen local water management institutions so that they may better meet evolving local and basin wide needs, especially the maintenance of water quality. Specific objectives of the research include: 1) Develop a set of objective and subjective criteria and indicators to evaluate local water management institutions; 2) Provide a review of the different governmental and nongovernmental institutions in the basin, classify their goals, activities and chartered purposes, and identify overlaps and functions that are not being addressed; 3) Identify and evaluate the characteristics of local water institutions that have a demonstrated capability to meet local goals and wider goals of the greater river basin; 4) Assess the use of: scientific and technical information; extension education and training programs; and other support provided by governmental and non-governmental agencies; 5) Analyze institutions and agencies likely behavior in a decision-making situation and further develop decision-making support tools; 6) Identify the characteristics of institutions that successfully evolve to meet new challenges; 7) Analyze preferences of a sample of residents and stakeholders toward watershed management issues and the types of institutions that they trust; and 8) Disseminate results to various forums including local workshops and scientific journals. Objective and subjective criteria and indicators for local water institutions will be refined for local circumstances by interviewing and surveying assorted State and Federal agencies who work on water management issues. A survey of local water institutions will be used to: identify goals, activities, and accomplishments; assess their understanding and use of technical information and extension training; and provide an understanding of how these institutions have evolved to meet changing needs. This survey will be supported by another survey of local leaders, county commissioners, and mayors. The Legal-Institutional Analysis Model will be used to assess negotiation strategies. And choice experiments, a stated preference technique that can estimate the non-market value for environmental goods and services, will be used to analyze residents and leaders preferences towards water management programs and institutional frameworks.