SR-18  Federal Bureaucracy and Locality: A Case Study of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users’ Association’s Management of its Water Commons

Employing case study evidence drawn from the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users’ Association (UVWUA), the research question is addressed: to what extent is either of two ideal type theoretical models (Freeman, 1989) supported, refuted, and/or found in need of modification? Employing longitudinal comparisons of the UVWUA over three distinct time periods (1902-1931, 1932-1949, and 1950-present), this research has examined how the UVWUA has changed its organizational attributes over time. In the beginning, the UVWUA was organized in such a way that significant problems developed and undercut project potential for decades. Eventually, the organization changed to address these problems and, after 1950, has increasingly become a successful steward of its common property resource (CPR) – irrigation water.

The analysis supports the conclusion that when the organization was most problematic it lacked attributes of successful common property resource organizations as posited by several theorists. Furthermore, the Association lacked attributes posited to be important to successful linkages with central state bureaucracies. The UVWUA instituted changes that correspond to what has been posited for success by theorists. Today, the UVWUA, as a common property resource organization, still exhibits attributes that theorists have seen as being critically important to successful, long-enduring CPR organizations. This research supports the hypotheses advanced in both ideal type models and modifications are proposed.