February 2012 article (Early View): “Collaborative Watershed Groups in Three Pacific Northwest States: A Regional Evaluation of Group Metrics and Perceived Success,” by B.C. Chaffin, R.L. Mahler, J.D. Wulfhorst, and B. Shafii.
A lot of water policy research concerns regional and national policies and decisions of high-level muckety mucks. This paper is an example of a different policy theme I saw developing at the AWRA Annual Conference in November 2011. It looks at how group members interact at the local level, and how this interaction can be improved.
Why do some watershed groups succeed and other not? This paper uses data collected from a survey instrument to determine the status, structure, and success of watershed groups in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, respectively.
The authors analyzed the extent to which leadership roles and participant satisfaction within PNW watershed groups act as key factors in the groups’ perceived levels of success. They also compared satisfaction levels of six internal core factors (funding, membership, motivation, leadership, mission, and data availability) and related effects upon watershed groups’ perceived levels of success.
They observed a significant positive association between perceived watershed group success and the following watershed group metrics: watershed group funding activities, number of members in a watershed group, motivation of watershed group members, leadership within the watershed group, group mission, and availability of necessary watershed data. It is therefore reasonable to believe that ensuring or increasing group member satisfaction with these internal elements of group structure and function will increase perceived watershed group success.
Overall, watershed groups with clear missions and goals are likely to be more successful than those groups with a lost or unclear focus.
[Please note: I have quoted and paraphrased freely from the article, but the interpretation is my own.]