The terms of more than 400 licenses for the production of hydropower in Norwegian watercourses can come up for revision by 2022. These revisions of terms open up for a weighting of the societal benefit of hydropower production against the regulation’s effect on the environment and public interests, such as recreational use and landscape experiences. At the same time, they are the principal instrument to improve the environmental conditions in regulated watercourses, and thus to implement the European Water Framework Directive in Norway. This article analyses by means of the relevant documents the results, processes and knowledge base of four of the licence revisions that have been conducted so far. We ask what one can learn from these first revisions, whether they fulfil the objectives as stated in the guidelines of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (OED), and whether they represent only incremental or more substantial changes in the management of regulated watercourses. Our study shows i.a. that these first revisions have been long-lasting processes with a relatively low impact on hydropower production, and that they only partially fulfil the objectives of the OED guidelines. We conclude that future revisions could be improved by applying more systematic and structured decision-making processes.

Key words: water management, hydropower production, the EU Water Framework Directive, public acceptance, decision-making