Ensuring water quality is one of the greatest public policy issues we face today. All of the decisions made in all places impact water quality, however, in our current system, the problem of water pollution is seen as government’s to solve, with little obligation for other sectors to play a role, and little incentive to organize a base of partnerships within and across all sectors to impact the scale of the challenge.
Government agencies, by providing a variety of expert-based services, have developed specialized areas of technical expertise as well as complex management systems to accomplish this work. As this expert-based system has developed, we have put much less emphasis on developing the social and political innovation needed to engage and sustain individuals as active citizens who take on their role in solving environmental problems.
The extent to which communities are involved in this work, their role is largely focused on stewardship activities on private properties. Education campaigns, led by non-profit organizations and government agencies, are seen as the key strategy for engaging the public in water quality issues. A meaningful role for citizens and citizenship in policymaking carried out in the places where they have the authority to act has not yet been imagined.
The Civic Governance case study details how a new model for water quality governance is being developed to address the need.
Read the case study documents: