Integrating the Principles of Integrated Water Resources Management?

River Basin Planning in England and Wales


  • Oliver Fritsch University of Leeds
  • David Benson University of East Anglia


Integrated Water Resources Management, IWRM, Water Framework Directive, river basin management, Europeanisation, lesson drawing, path dependency, regulatory culture


Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is now a globally generic concept encompassing
a multitude of environmental governance approaches in different national contexts.
However, conspicuous gaps in the IWRM literature concerning the application of this concept in
practice are still evident suggesting a need for further theoretically driven comparative research.
In view of these gaps, this article examines IWRM in one leading national context with a long
established tradition of holistically managing water resources, namely England and Wales. The
article assesses how this discourse has been interpreted, the extent to which it has been integrated
into water management, the key country-level variables shaping IWRM and the potential for
lesson drawing for other states, particularly in the European Union (EU). Analysis shows that
IWRM principles are being implemented under current EU legislative measures and integration
appears advanced. A significant exogenous driver of change is the EU Water Framework Directive.
However, problems have emerged relating to aspects of IWRM integration, linked primarily to
endogenous path dependency of institutions and regulatory culture. While this approach could
therefore be considered ‘integrating’ it has some way to go before being fully ‘integrated’. On
this basis, England and Wales provide lessons, both negative and positive, on IWRM for policy
makers in other comparable states.


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How to Cite

Fritsch, O. ., & Benson, D. . (2013). Integrating the Principles of Integrated Water Resources Management? River Basin Planning in England and Wales. International Journal of Water Governance, 1(3-4), 265–284. Retrieved from

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