The client, Hennepin County Environmental Services, charged the consultant team, Water First, to evaluate the current water governance structure of the county. While the charge was to only focus on the governance of Hennepin County, the reality is that water knows no political, district or regional boundaries and the actions of all have the ability to affect the quality and quantity of Hennepin County’s water. Academic theorists and practitioners have observed that because the natural boundaries of watersheds rarely coincide with political jurisdictions, and because every watershed decision has potential ‘downstream’ consequences, devising appropriate governance structures is a difficult challenge. However, there is the potential for watershed management to truly integrate efforts to achieve a balance of ecological, economic, and social goals.
After presenting a literature review, research methodologies, and key findings from the interview process, this paper will introduce potential governance models that Hennepin County could consider as structures for implementing environmental policy. It will assess the models against a theoretical framework to measure good governance, which includes components of feasibility, efficiency, equity, sustainability, and transparency. Finally, this paper will recommend structural changes that Hennepin County can make to its existing system to improve issues of equity, efficiency, and transparency, while it maintains strong local control. Finally, there will be an option for the County to consider an alternative governance structure as well.
Recommendations are presented below with the understanding that the most aggressive changes to the structure may be long‐term goals that will require considerable effort and collaboration to achieve. The first recommendation, however, may be a more immediate option that Hennepin County can pursue. To achieve the qualities of governance outlined above the following three options are proposed for Hennepin County:
• Recommendation One: Hennepin County should form a Collaborative Watershed Commission comprised of representatives from the Soil and Water Conservation District, cities, Hennepin County, WMOs and local water organizations. This Commission will advocate for joint policy development and coordination across watersheds and organizations within the county.
• Recommendation Two: Rewrite and combine Minnesota Statutes 103D.311 and 103B.227 to create an oversight board comprised of representatives from the relevant cities, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, and the Soil and Water Conservation Board. This board would have the ability to appoint and remove WMO board members and to approve WMO budgets.
• Recommendation Three: Utilize the natural boundaries of Minnesota’s 81 major watersheds to provide the geographical basis for new local policy‐making units to be called Economic and Environmental Policy Councils (EEPC).
Hawton, Michael; Levingston, Vanessa; Seifert, Laura; Siess, Jon. Hennepin County Water Management: Governance Structure Analysis and Recommendations. Aug 6 2009. Sept 8 2009. Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
professional paper in partial fulfillment of the Master of Public Affairs and Master of Public Policy degree
Hawton, Michael; Levingston, Vanessa; Siess, Jon; Seifert, Laura.
Hennepin County Water Management: Governance Structure Analysis and Recommendations.
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
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