IWRM in the United States

Integration in the Chesapeake Bay Program


  • Judith A. Layzer Environmental Policy and Planning Group | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Alexis Schulman Department of Urban Studies and Planning | Massachusetts Institute of Technology


IWRM, integration, water management, Chesapeake Bay Program


In the United States, IWRM has been slow to catch on as a label. But for decades, the concept
has been implemented in a variety of forms—from small, local projects to large, multi-state
efforts—and under a variety of rubrics—from interstate river commissions to ecosystem-based
management and “watershed approach.” As of 2012, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands)
of IWRM-like initiatives under way in the United States; they are united by their focus on the
river basin or watershed as a whole, their efforts to engage stakeholders and coordinate the
activities of the agencies and jurisdictions operating within a watershed or river basin, and their
emphasis on ecological restoration. It is unclear, however, whether and how these enterprises
have improved either the process or the outcomes of water management. Therefore, this essay
asks: how, and to what extent, has a commitment to the core principles of IWRM yielded genuine
integration in water management, and with what consequences for the environment? To answer
these questions, we examine the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), which is often described as
the nation’s premier watershed-scale management initiative. Based on journalistic accounts,
in-depth interviews, and an extensive review of program documents, we conclude that the
CBP has enhanced technical, institutional, and—to a lesser extent—sectoral integration in the
Chesapeake Bay watershed. Because the program has relied almost exclusively on voluntary
cooperation among state partners and willing compliance by water users, however,
implementation of collaboratively developed plans has been uneven and inadequate to meet the program’s
goals. With neither the authority nor the resources to compel behavior changes, the CBP has
been unable to alter the powerful and longstanding incentives facing program participants and
stakeholders. As a consequence, despite nearly thirty years of integrated knowledge production
and planning, the watershed has seen minimal ecological improvement.


Download data is not yet available.




How to Cite

Layzer, J. A. ., & Schulman, A. . (2013). IWRM in the United States: Integration in the Chesapeake Bay Program. International Journal of Water Governance, 1(3-4), 237–264. Retrieved from https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/ijwg/article/view/5956

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.