Environmental Management

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 842–852 | Cite as

Evolving Water Management Institutions in the Red River Basin

  • Robert R. HearneEmail author


Institutions are the rules and norms that guide societal behavior. As societies evolve—with more diverse economies, increased populations and incomes, and more water scarcity—new and more complex water management institutions need to be developed. This evolution of water management institutions may also be observed across different constituencies, with different societal needs, in the same time period. The Red River of the North basin is particularly well suited for research on water management issues. A key feature of water management in the Red River Basin is the presence of three completely different sets of water law. Minnesota’s water law is based upon riparian rights. North Dakota’s water law is based upon prior appropriation. Manitoba has a system of water allocation that features provincial control. Because the basin is fairly homogeneous in terms of land use and geographic features, its institutional diversity makes this an excellent case study for the analysis of local water institutions. This article reviews the local water management institutions in the Red River Basin and assesses the ongoing institutional evolution of local water management.


Watershed management Water policy Public participation Water law Institutional change Watershed districts 



This effort was partially supported by USGS-NIWR grant “Assessing the Effectiveness of Local Water Institutions in Water Management.” The author thanks Jay Leitch, Craig Kritsky, and two anonymous reviewers of this journal for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agribusiness and Applied EconomicsNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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