Crafting Collaborative Governance: Water Resources, California's Delta Plan, and Audited Self-Management in New Zealand

Date01 April 2015
Water Resources,
California’s Delta
Plan, and Audited
in New Zealand
by Cameron Holley
Dr. Cameron Holley is Senior Research Fellow
at the Law Faculty, UNSW Australia, Connected
Waters Initiative Research Center and National
Center for Groundwater Research and Training.
Since the 1980s, water governance has increasingly
been linked to institutions and laws that engage local
actors and closely relate to local ecosystems and catch-
ments. ese approaches, referred to as collaborative
water governance, encompass new coalitions among
governments, their agencies, and institutions of civil
society, and are typically held together via guidelines,
plans, and nonbinding agreements. is Article oers
an empirical look at two examples, Audited Self-
Management in New Zealand and California’s Delta
Plan, asking whether these initiatives promote genu-
ine, eective stakeholder collaboration and how they
blend their collaborative elements with traditional
legal systems.
I. Introduction
Charles Montesquieu’s classic text, e   ,
presents an account of law and governance that is acutely
related to the physical aspects of countries.1 Climate and
geography, he said, produced dierent characteristics
and forms of government (for example, democratic or
despotic).2 Law should relate to these dierences and to
the physical aspects of a country, including its climate and
the properties of the terrain.3 Moreover, good governance
(at least in a republican sense) depended fundamentally on
actions at small local scales, where “the public good is bet-
ter felt, better known, [and] lies nearer to each citizen.4
Montesquieu’s image of governance nds strong
resonances in modern ecological and democratic ideals
that inform how we think about and create arrangements
for governing water. Indeed, since the 1980s, the “good
governance” of water has increasingly been linked to
institutions and laws that engage local actors and closely
relate to local ecosystems and catchments.5
Stirred by a growing awareness of ecological realities,6
traditional top-down regulatory approaches have been
increasingly spurned, due to a lack of t between the
boundaries of water and political systems.7 A ssociated
drivers have included the need to circumvent the
increasingly rigid and siloed responsibility of centralized
governing agencies to better account for and adapt to the
1. C L. M, T S   L (Cambridge Univ.
Press 1989) (1750); Richard Perry,     
    , in J B  H M.
I, R  W: N A  T
C  C 301-03 (2001).
2. Id.
3. M, supra note 1, at 9.
4. Id. at 124; Daniel Kemmis & Matthew McKinney, Collaboration as an
, N’ C R. 6-7 (2011).
5. ere are competing mentalities and ideals within water governance
approaches, not least of which is privatization/neoliberalism. See Matthias
Finger,  , in D L  P N, T
B  G E G (2005).
6. E O, F  E (1953).
7. Bradley C. Karkkainen, Collaborative Ecosystem Governance: Scale,
 , 21 V. E. L.J. 189 (2002) [hereinafter
Karkkainen, Collaborative Ecosystem].
      
 
   
  Cameron Holley & Neil Gunningham, 
       
, 24 N.Z. U. L. R. 309 (2011). e author
Copyright © 2015 Environmental Law Institute®, Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission from ELR®,, 1-800-433-5120.

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