Global Integrative Studies, School of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Ecology and Society 28(1): 44


Used by permission.


The prevalence and persistence of harmful cyanobacterial blooms demonstrate the importance of governance systems that effectively engage with many actors to address nonpoint pollution from a variety of sources across multiple spatial domains. Although the importance of social-ecological alignment on effective governance is increasingly clear, governance systems often evolve incrementally and in a manner that fails to adequately align resources and governance networks with biophysical structures, processes, and legacies. Through a survey of water governance actors in the Lake Champlain Basin, we map the structure of the water governance network and identify the key information brokers, flows of resources, and ongoing collaborative partnerships. We measure cross-scale and within-scale linkages to characterize the degree of coordination across space and scale using exponential random graph models, finding distinct differences in governance activities by mode of coordination. We also show that coordination in the system is largely a function of geographic proximity and shared issues of concern, demonstrating the importance of multidimensional, social-ecological perspectives in the collaborative governance of freshwater systems. Specific to the Lake Champlain Basin, our findings suggest that as the transformation of the governance system proceeds, cross-scale and inter-watershed coordination must be regularized to maintain learning and innovation across the system as it pursues its clean water goals.