Evaluation of Alternative Water Governance Arrangements in British Columbia

Angela Lockrey (UBC)

Abstract: In response to a need for enhanced water governance, water institutional reforms are taking place around the world. Common among these reforms is a shift from monocentric to polycentric water governance arrangements, bridging multiple scales of stakeholders through a mix of institutional arrangements. Benefits of a polycentric approach are commonly associated with higher performance in diverse contexts through better adaptation to changing conditions, customized rules that meet local needs and a sense of trust amongst stakeholders. In British Columbia, these findings are recognized in the Province’s new Water Sustainability Act, which offers the opportunity for alternative governance arrangements that could better respond to the unique challenges and needs of British Columbia’s diverse physical and biological landscapes. Building on new institutional economics and Williamson’s transaction cost economics work that suggests institutions that minimize transaction costs within and across situations optimize decision-making, I conducted a province wide survey to evaluate the perceptions of transaction costs amongst two alternative water governance arrangements throughout British Columbia. This poster presentation explores the ex-ante transaction costs of these alternative arrangements and how this information can be used to assist with the implementation of the Province’s new Water Sustainability Act.