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Keywords:

  • planning;
  • environmental regulations;
  • financial sustainability;
  • local governments;
  • source water protection;
  • trans-jurisdictional boundaries;
  • watershed management

Patterson, Lauren A., Jeffrey Hughes, Glenn Barnes, and Stacey I. Berahzer, 2012. A Question of Boundaries: The Importance of “Revenuesheds” for Watershed Protection. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 48(4): 838-848. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2012.00655.x

Abstract:  Watersheds transcend jurisdictional boundaries; raising important questions of who should pay for watershed protection, and how can watershed governance be funded? The responsibility and cost for watershed protection has progressively devolved to local governments, resulting in additional negative externalities and financing challenges. Watershed governance structures have formed at the scale of the watershed, but they often lack the financing mechanisms needed to achieve policy goals. Financing mechanisms via local governments provide a reliable source of revenue and the flexibility to address watershed specific issues. We develop a “revenueshed” approach to access the initial challenges local governments face when seeking to finance trans-jurisdictional watershed governance. The revenueshed approach engages local governments into discussion and implementation of financial strategies for collaborative watershed governance. Legislation places water quality regulations primarily on local governments inside the watershed. The revenueshed approach extends the financial and stewardship discussion to include local governments outside the watershed that benefit from the watershed. We applied the revenueshed approach to the Mills River and Upper Neuse watersheds in North Carolina. Mills River had a partnership governance seeking revenue for specific projects, whereas the Upper Neuse sought long-term financial stability to meet new water quality legislation.