AbstractThis study examines the prospects for participatory governance in water management: The WFD makes important changes to the way we manage our water resources not only because management has to occur in river basins and no longer adheres to administrative boundaries. Another point is that legislation requires the active involvement of all interested parties in developing the best approach to achieving good ecological status of water bodies. This analysis assumes that the WFD will lead to institutional change at a local, regional and state level. To investigate this theory a case study is carried out in the Eider Catchment which is located in Schleswig-Holstein (north western Germany). The analysis also explores opportunities and requirements for participatory governance in future water management.