Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important and growing role in the economy, but they also contribute to negative environmental effects. It is often argued that local governments (LGs) would be better able than the central government to address these environmental effects. LGs can generate locally specific solutions and mobilize other local stakeholders. This article examines (1) how Thai SMEs respond to complaints about their industrial water pollution and (2) to what extent LGs have been able to address such environmental degradation. Thirty cases of industrial water pollution were investigated, and stakeholders (entrepreneurs, LGs, affected communities and NGOs) were interviewed about their actions and responses. We conclude that none of the stakeholders on their own make a significant contribution to the environmental outcomes. We present two cases detailing how enterprises, LGs and communities interacted with each other over time and how this interaction shaped the environmental outcomes. The responses of polluting entrepreneurs were driven by interaction between various stakeholders. This finding suggests that LGs alone cannot address water pollution, even if they have the authority and capacity. LGs need to interact with other stakeholders to pursue this task.