Watershed Planning: Pseudo-Democracy and its Alternatives – The Case of the Cache River Watershed, Illinois

Jane Adams, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Steven Kraft, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
J. B. Ruhl, Florida State University
Christopher Lant, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Tim Loftus, Heidelberg College
Leslie Duram, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Agriculture and Human Values (2005) 22: 327–338


Watershed planning has typically been approached as a technical problem in which water quality and quantity as influenced by the hydrology, topography, soil composition, and land use of a watershed are the significant variables. However, it is the human uses of land and water as resources that stimulate governments to seek planning. For the past decade or more, many efforts have been made to create democratic planning processes, which, it is hoped, will be viewed as legitimate by those the plans regulate. This article uses a case study of the Cache River watershed in southernmost Illinois to analyze the complicated historical and political economic context of a specific watershed planning process that occurred from 1993 through 1995. This article assesses the claims made about the democratic, grass-roots, deliberative nature of the planning process and casts doubt on the legitimacy of its outcomes. It also proposes an alternative form of governance that would be both democratic and capable of generating outcomes viewed as legitimate by most affected parties.