Stakeholder Participation in Watershed Management: An Evaluation of the Jordan Lake Stakeholder Project
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The Jordan Lake Stakeholder Project (JLSP) was a public participation project convened by the NC Department of Water Quality (DWQ) in response to high levels of nutrients found in Jordan Lake, a reservoir in the central piedmont of North Carolina. The DWQ is a frequent convener of such time- and resource-intensive projects, yet lacks methods for evaluating their successes and benefits. This project will give environmental regulators guidance on the use of collaborative processes in watershed management. I evaluated the JLSP based on a framework of substantive and procedural factors and practical outcomes to identify the presence of criteria thought to be indicative of successful collaborative projects. Examples of criteria include process execution, process fairness, and public acceptance. I developed indicators for each criterion and used the presence or attainment of these indicators to denote the existence of the criterion. For example, indicators of process design included a clear impetus for the project, defined project goals and outcomes, and clear expectations of participants. My findings indicate that the JLSP was successful in developing a pollutant load level for the watershed and recommendations for a nutrient management strategy. Concepts such as reductions in nutrient loading from existing development, Adaptive Management, and nutrient-trading were included in the rules proposed by the DWQ, based on the recommendations by the JLSP participants. In addition, the project encouraged communication and partnerships among municipalities in the watershed. However, issues such as the complexity of pinpointing pollution sources and a disproportionate allocation of costs and benefits produced by potential regulations may have been too complex and contentious for stakeholders to reach consensus-based decisions.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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