Building Transboundary Water Governance Capacity for Non-point Pollution: A Comparison of Australia and North America

Dustin Evan Garrick, Gail Krantzberg, Savitri Jetoo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    This paper uses the transboundary governance capacity framework (TGC) to compare responses to nonpoint pollution in the Great Lakes and transboundary water basins in North America and Australia. A step-wise approach to comparison refines our understanding of transboundary water governance institutions, their design and performance. Using case studies that move from similar to different geographic contexts, this comparative approach explores the opportunities and limits for mutual learning; it draws on a set of institutional indicators developed for the TGC framework to assess governance capacity within and across different geographic contexts. Governance capacity for nonpoint pollution has been uneven in the Great Lakes with pockets of success linked to high levels of multiple indicators. Capacity depends on legitimacy crafted through multi-layered participatory decision-making processes, buttressed by formal conflict resolution and the availability of regulatory mechanisms for third party enforcement if incentives and participation prove insufficient. In the Columbia, Colorado and Murray-Darling Basins ‘issue linkages’ have been used to remedy deficits in governance capacity by drawing from other water-related challenges, such as fisheries and water scarcity, where governance capacity exists. In all cases, transboundary governance capacity has required attention to ‘process values’ – that is the procedures used to come to decisions and implement nonpoint pollution programs. Future research should examine how attributes of transboundary governance capacity evolve in relation to environmental quality indicators; it should also identify finer grained measures of the indicators to ensure external validity and enable comparisons within and across case studies. Keywords: adaptive governance, transboundary water governance, governance capacity, Great Lakes, Murray-Darling Basin, Columbia River, Colorado River, comparative water research, non point pollution

    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)111–132
    JournalInternational journal of water governance
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • North American Great Lakes
    • Australia
    • transboundary water governance

    Cite this