The connectivity dilemma in freshwater management: exploring the role of street level bureaucrats in water governance.
Connectivity is key in freshwater management, e.g. to ensure viable populations of fish, but restoring it may cause the spread of invasive species. Goal conflicts of this kind are common in freshwater management, and the burden of addressing them rests on the shoulders of street-level bureaucrats, i.e. public officials at the end of the policy chain. This study uses a theoretical framework to explore their management choices employing previous research on natural resource management. The findings, based on qualitative semi-structured interviews with street-level bureaucrats from all water districts in Sweden, show that the three factors explored - their understanding of formal policy, their implementation resources, and their policy beliefs - matter when anthropogenic connectivity barriers are considered in ongoing management. Additionally, the factors are interrelated in a way that can obstruct the implementation of policy goals. While connectivity issues rank high and are considered a great problem all over the country, invasive species are regarded as a relatively small problem. If this should change in the future, the level of preparedness is low, primarily due to restricted implementation resources, but also due to the absence of guidance and formal responsibilities.