Actors and institutions in water management policy : a case study of the Everglades restudy process, 1992-2000
The Central and Southern Florida Comprehensive Review Study (Restudy, 1992-2000) is recognized for its innovative approach to water management planning. The Restudy is a policy development process for the greater Everglades ecosystem that integrates natural sciences, simulation models, and an unusually broad-based commitment to stakeholder engagement. It led to authorization of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) through the federal Water Resources Development Act of 2000, despite significant conflict between different stakeholder groups. The thesis deploys a grounded theoretical approach to analyze a range of empirical data. These data include transcripts of semi-structured interviews with 77 actors representing a spectrum of stakeholder interests that includes scientists, federal and state level public servants, environmentalists, farmers. Native Americans and local citizens. Interviews were conceptualized through participant observation at various public meetings over the period 1999-2001, and further supported through extensive archival research. The nature and quality of communications between actors, the building of new institutions, and the mobilization of different forms of scientific knowledge throughout the process are identified as critical factors in achieving an agreed outcome. The analysis highlights the profound importance of a small number of actors who had the capability and credibility to move between different policy arenas in brokering the process. The agency of these actors created a number of new institutional structures that enabled stakeholders to achieve a negotiated outcome that fell within the range socio-political acceptability. The CERP met the requirements of nature while accommodating anticipated growth in demand for water supply and flood control with the expansion of the South Florida population. The thesis contributes to a growing literature on questions of environmental governance for sustainability. It offers conclusions that may be relevant in many different geographical contexts where there is currently conflict about how to achieve more equitable allocation of water.