Capacity development for integrated land and water use planning

Water Economics, Policy and Governance Network (WEPGN)

Capacity development for integrated land and water use planning

Project Description:

Under the Water for Life strategy and Water Act, Alberta was implementing a new water governance structure including Alberta Water Council, Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils (WPAC), and Watershed Stewardship Groups. These multi-stakeholder and multi-level partnerships have developed water management plans for more than five years. Under Alberta’s Land Steward Act and Land Use Framework, regional municipalities and Regional Advisory Councils have to develop watershed based regional plans integrating land and water management. This raises policy questions: i) how can the shared responsibilities for water use and conservation be fulfilled? ii) what are the roles of various actors and how can the capacity and capability of partnerships and networks be enhanced? iii) how will these institutional changes affect the capacity and capability for integrated land and water planning? iv) how can the work of the WPACs be integrated into the new processes of developing regional integrated land and water plans?

The objectives of this research are to: i) conduct a stakeholder analysis to identify the perception of the new Alberta governance structure during the early years of rollout, how they see land and water planning being integrated, and how they perceive that social justice is secured in this governance structure; and ii) conduct a survey to elicit the perception within the broader community of the effects of institutional changes on effective water governance and water use and conservation. The knowledge gained from this research will provide important insight into the issues and problems of new shared water governance structure and will help to identify the ways to improve its effectiveness and capacity to act.

This project builds on ongoing research and will utilize the data and findings generated by that research. The proposed research will include the following methods:

a) Literature review and review of the outcome from current and ongoing surveys of irrigators and land owners as well as rural and urban residents in the SSRB about the role of government and other actors in water management.
b) In-depth interview and focus groups with stakeholders will be carried out to identify the stakeholders’ perception of what constitutes good governance for integrated resource management.
c) A survey of the general public will be conducted to identify how members of the community perceive the issue of integrated resource management and how it should be carried out.
d) Q-method will be employed to identify the consensus of stakeholders about the preferred institutional/governance structure for integrated water resource management and their assessment of Alberta’s governance structure for water and integrated resource management measured against what they perceive to be good governance
e) Multivariate techniques will be applied to the survey data to establish perception of integrated water resource management and how it should be achieved and what influences such perceptions.

Qualitative and quantitative analysis will be combined in order to enrich our understanding of how different factors are shaping people’s perception of institutional and governance reforms.

Our study will concentrate on the SSRB, the Athabasca River Basin, and the Edmonton region to provide a wider Alberta perspective. Secondary data such as legal and government document as well as economic and water use data are already collected or are in the process of being collected. All secondary data should be in place when the project starts. Some update might be desirable during the project but sources have been identified. As for contact information we are currently building a data base with contact information for potential respondents from various sectors of the society. These databases can be further expanded using list providers.


Wei Xu, & Henning Bjornlund


Alberta Innovates: Energy and Environment Solutions

Graduate Student(s):

Joseph Zhao (post-doc), Amber Zary, & Jenna Montgomery