B1.10 Local authorities
Local authorities can play an important role in overseeing the implementation of IWRM activities both within their boundaries and within the local and regional watersheds. They act both as regulators and as service providers and have a role in raising finance. Despite varying levels of jurisdiction over water services, local governments have both direct and indirect responsibility for the water security of their communities and their industrial base.
In the context of IWRM, local authorities affect the aquatic ecosystems through their energy supplies, land uses (including zoning and impermeable areas), point and non-point pollution, construction practices, public education, solid waste and urban drainage practices, among other aspects. Improved integration of the efforts of all the relevant actors toward commonly accepted goals for their water resources is necessary to improve the quality of water bodies and the security of the watersheds and aquifers on which they depend.
The role of local authorities and governments in supporting IWRM is particularly strong where there are moves towards decentralisation and democratisation of planning and resource management. Local governments offer a strong forum for local participation, particularly through internationally recognised programmes, such as Local Agenda 21 planning, and can be instrumental in providing information and supporting dialogue among stakeholders and policy makers (see also C4.2 on communications with stakeholders).
Local governments have a variety of economic instruments available to them to influence the behaviour of their citizenry. These include rate structures and charges, fees for permits and other governmental services, special taxes and surcharges, incentives (such as bonuses and rebates) as well as fines and penalties. These economic instruments are complemented by a variety of regulatory instruments, such as by-laws, which local governments can use to influence the implementation of IWRM practices within their boundaries (see C6, C7).
The wide range of jurisdiction and activity in the area of IWRM makes generalisations about their effectiveness difficult. Nonetheless the following lessons are applicable: