Collaborative Watershed Planning in Washington State: Implementing the Watershed Planning Act
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In 1998 the Washington State Legislature enacted the Watershed Planning Act, which encourages local governments to develop watershed plans using collaborative processes. Objectives of the statute are to address water resource and water quality issues, salmon habitat needs and to establish instream flows. This exploratory study sought to examine two aspects of how local governments are implementing the Act: challenges and benefits associated with collaborative watershed planning and the capacity of local governments to conduct collaborative watershed planning. Using documents and interview data from four cases, it was found that all planning groups experience similar challenges, although newer planning groups experienced more challenges than groups with previous planning experience. Challenges include issues surrounding the collaborative process, interagency co-ordination and trust. Local governments struggle with building capacity to plan, particularly in the areas of funding, technical expertise, incentives for participation, adequate time to conduct planning and questions regarding appropriate scale and scope of their planning efforts. Despite the challenges, collaborative watershed planning is well underway, with more than 37 planning units conducting planning under the Act.
- The Water Center