Do mandates matter for plan quality? Jurisdictional aggregation for a watershed level comparison

2017-11-13T08:52:28Z (GMT) by Danielle Spurlock
<p>Despite the prominent ecological and economic roles played by local water bodies, jurisdictions routinely fail to take action to protect water resources. To combat this failure to act, mandates can intervene in the land-development process by requiring the creation of a plan. This study compares two watersheds – one watershed planning under Maryland's mandate and one watershed planning without a mandate in North Carolina. Using established plan quality content analysis methods, (1) the quality of plans and (2) the impact of a mandate on the quality of plans are explored with respect to water resource protection. Low overall plan quality scores reveal that policies and practices aimed at protecting water resources are not consistently incorporated into plans at the jurisdictional or watershed level. The findings also suggest, but cannot conclude, that a planning mandate without specific guidance on water resource protection may be an insufficient condition for higher quality plans.</p>