Watershed management is the study of the relevant characteristics of a watershed aimed at the sustainable distribution of its resources and the process of creating and implementing plans, programs, and projects to sustain and enhance watershed functions that affect the plant, animal, and human communities within a watershed boundary. Features of a watershed that agencies seek to manage include water supply, water quality, drainage, stormwater runoff, water rights, and the overall planning and utilization of watersheds. Landowners, land use agencies, stormwater management experts, environmental specialists, water use surveyors and communities all play an integral part in the management of ...view middle of the document...
Point source pollution, such as effluent from waste water treatment plants and other industries play a much larger role in this setting. Also, the greatly increased area of impervious surfaces, such as concrete, combined with modern storm drainage systems, allows for water and the contaminants that it can carry with it to exit the urban landscape quickly and end up in the nearest stream.
In agricultural systems, common practices include the use of buffer strips, grassed waterways, the reestablishment of wetlands, and forms of sustainable agriculture practices such as conservation tillage, crop rotation and intercropping. After certain practices are installed, it is important to continually monitor these systems to ensure that they are working properly in terms of improving environmental quality.
In urban settings, managing areas to prevent soil loss and control stormwater flow are a few of the areas that receive attention. A few practices that are used to manage stormwater before it reaches a channel are retention ponds, filtering systems and wetlands. It is important that stormwater is given an opportunity to infiltrate so that the soil and vegetation can act as a "filter" before the water reaches nearby streams or lakes. In the case of soil erosion prevention, a few common practices include the use of silt fences, landscape fabric with grass seed and hydroseeding. The main objective in all cases is to slow water movement to prevent soil transport.
The second World Water Forum held in The Hague in March 2000 raised some controversies that exposed the multilateral nature and imbalance the demand and supply management of freshwater. While donor organisations, private and government institutions backed by the World Bank, believe that freshwater should be governed as an economic good by appropriate pricing, NGOs however, held that freshwater resources should be seen as a social good. The concept of network governance where all stakeholders form partnerships and voluntarily share ideas towards forging a common vision can be used to resolve this clash of opinion in freshwater management. Also, the implementation of any common vision presents a new role for NGOs because of their unique capabilities in local community coordination, thus making them a valuable partner in network governance.
Watersheds replicate this multilateral terrain with private industries and local communities interconnected by a common watershed. Although these groups share a common ecological space that could transcend state borders, their interests, knowledge and use of resources within the watershed are mostly disproportionate and divergent, resulting to the activities of a specific group adversely impacting on other groups. Classic examples being the Minamata Bay poisoning that occurred from 1932 to 1968, killing over 1784 individuals and the Wabigoon River incidence of 1962. Furthermore,...