Integrated Water Management: A Framework for Collaborative Governance

Increasing Agency Collaboration for a Better Water Future

For the past two decades, TreePeople has been advocating for Los Angeles’ watersheds to be managed in a more integrated way. Our recent report, Moving Towards Collaboration: A New Vision for Water Management, lays out a path to achieve this and overcome common barriers to implementation.

After researching examples of integrated management from around the world, we developed a framework, focused on stormwater, as a resource for agencies and other leaders to consider future approaches that could positively impact their organizations and work. This framework highlights how different collaborative dynamics can transcend barriers to inter-agency cooperation.

The collaborative governance approach brings agencies together for opportunities that previously would be hindered by bureaucratic silos. It also helps align diverse infrastructure agencies’ goals, investments and programs. This requires each agency to understand that it is a uniquely skilled unit within a larger team, and to think beyond its individual mandates and regulations to an all-encompassing vision for water in Los Angeles.

The framework outlines three levels of collaboration that are cooperative, not hierarchical, and could have exponential impacts on the environment and communities. These approaches are not designed to merge functions, remove individual power from agencies, or transfer decision-making out of the hands of local leaders. Rather, they provide a context and a system for making smarter decisions combined with clear mandates and robust performance measures.

In 2014, TreePeople worked with three leading water agencies in Los Angeles to explore more holistic and powerful solutions to enable the region to meet its historic water challenges. These agencies, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, joined us in a project called the Multi-Agency Collaborative. As discussed in this report, it is clear that our region’s need for secure and clean water stands to benefit from a shared vision, defined goals and coordinated strategy managed across agencies. The framework below is one result of this project.


Levels of Collaboration


Read the full Guide to Collaborative Governance, excerpted from our report, Moving Towards Collaboration: A New Vision for Water Management.


Our Role

For the past 20 years, we have been a leader in innovative ecosystem-based water management in the Los Angeles region, using a watershed approach. Our resulted in the nationally recognized Sun Valley Watershed Project, among others.


For more about the MAC collaboration, and our work on collaborative governance, read our recent blog post. For further information on our policy-related work visit our website.