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Which risks get managed? Addressing climate effects in the context of evolving water-governance institutions

Ken Conca
American University, Washington DC, USA; conca@american.edu

ABSTRACT: Warnings about climate change invariably stress water-related effects. Such effects are typically framed as both unpredictable and disruptive, and are thus said to create large new risks to the water sector demanding adaptive responses. This article examines how such responses are mediated by, and also compromised by, two dominant trends in the evolution of water governance institutions: (1) the rise of an “integrated” paradigm of water resources management, which has encouraged the development of more complex and interconnected water institutions, and (2) the rapidly changing political economy of water financing and investment. Each of these trends carries its own strong presumptions about what constitutes water-related risk and how such risk is properly managed. The article uses the specific example of large dam projects to illustrate how these ongoing trends in water governance shape and complicate the prospect of managing climate-water risks.

KEYWORDS: Integrated Water Resources Management, climate change, climate adaptation, risk, uncertainty



 

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Upgrading domestic-plus systems in rural Senegal: An incremental Income-Cost (I-C) analysis

Ralph P. Hall
School of Public and International Affairs, Urban Affairs and Planning Program, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA; rphall@vt.edu

Eric A. Vance
Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis (LISA), Department of Statistics, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA; ervance@vt.edu

Emily van Houweling
Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA; emily.vanhouweling@du.edu

ABSTRACT: There is growing evidence that rural and peri-urban households depend on water not only for basic domestic needs but also for a wide variety of livelihood activities. In recognition of this reality, an alternative approach to water service planning, known as multiple-use water services (MUS), has emerged to design water services around households╩╝ multiple water needs. The benefits of MUS are diverse and include improved health, food security, income generation, and women’s empowerment. A common argument put forth by WASH sector professionals in favour of upgrading existing water systems is that productive water uses allow for income generation that, in turn, enhances the ability to pay for services. However, there has been limited rigorous research to assess whether the additional income generated from productive use activities justifies water service upgrading costs. This paper describes an income-cost (I-C) analysis based on survey data and EPANET models for 47 domestic-plus water systems in rural Senegal to assess whether the theoretical financial benefits to households from additional piped-water-based productive activities would be greater than the estimated system upgrade costs. The paper provides a transparent methodology for performing an I-C analysis. We find that the potential incremental income earned by upgrading the existing domestic-plus systems to provide intermediate-level MUS would be equivalent to the funds needed to recover the system upgrade costs in just over one year. Thus, hypothetically, water could pay for water. A sensitivity analysis shows that even with a 55% reduction in household income earned per cubic meter of water, the incremental income is still greater than the upgrade costs over a ten-year period for the majority of the systems.

KEYWORDS: Domestic-plus systems, intermediate-level MUS, multiple-use water services, rural water supply, incremental I-C analysis, Senegal



 

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Groundwater as a source of conflict and cooperation: Towards creating mutual gains in a Finnish water supply project

Vuokko Kurki
Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland; vuokko.kurki@tut.fi

Tapio S. Katko
Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland; tapio.katko@tut.fi

ABSTRACT: Community planners, decision-makers and authorities frequently encounter conflicts revolving around natural resource management as well as around urban planning. Since the 1970s, the dynamics of conflict resolution have evolved from conventional expert-based rational solutions towards collaborative ones. Against this background, our research investigates one contentious groundwater project in the Tampere Region in Finland. Conflict assessment clarified the divergent interests of the multiple parties. Drawing on negotiation theory, this study illustrates how polarised positions and competitive framing, as well as the influence of historical baggage, may form an insurmountable barrier to successful negotiation. While the acknowledgement of various interests should form the heart of the integrative negotiation process, excessive energy is used for argumentation to protect predefined goals with as minor concessions as possible. Addressing the collaborative approach, we suggest multiple ways towards creating mutual gains and cooperation in future water supply projects.

KEYWORDS: Conflict assessment, case-study, groundwater, integrative negotiation, mutual gains approach, Finland



 

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Vernacular knowledge and water management – Towards the integration of expert science and local knowledge in Ontario, Canada

Hugh Simpson
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada; Water Policy and Governance Group; hcsimpso@uwaterloo.ca

Rob de Loë
Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; Water Policy and Governance Group; rdeloe@uwaterloo.ca

Jean Andrey
Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; jandrey@uwaterloo.ca

ABSTRACT: Complex environmental problems cannot be solved using expert science alone. Rather, these kinds of problems benefit from problem-solving processes that draw on 'vernacular' knowledge. Vernacular knowledge integrates expert science and local knowledge with community beliefs and values. Collaborative approaches to water problem-solving can provide forums for bringing together diverse, and often competing, interests to produce vernacular knowledge through deliberation and negotiation of solutions. Organised stakeholder groups are participating increasingly in such forums, often through involvement of networks, but it is unclear what roles these networks play in the creation and sharing of vernacular knowledge. A case-study approach was used to evaluate the involvement of a key stakeholder group, the agricultural community in Ontario, Canada, in creating vernacular knowledge during a prescribed multi-stakeholder problem-solving process for source water protection for municipal supplies. Data sources – including survey questionnaire responses, participant observation, and publicly available documents – illustrate how respondents supported and participated in the creation of vernacular knowledge. The results of the evaluation indicate that the respondents recognised and valued agricultural knowledge as an information source for resolving complex problems. The research also provided insight concerning the complementary roles and effectiveness of the agricultural community in sharing knowledge within a prescribed problem-solving process.

KEYWORDS: Vernacular knowledge, water governance, stakeholder networks, collaborative decision making, agriculture, Ontario, Canada



 

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Brazil’s São Luiz do Tapajós Dam: The art of cosmetic environmental impact assessments

Philip M. Fearnside
National Institute for Research in Amazonia (INPA), Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil; pmfearn@inpa.gov.br

ABSTRACT: Brazil’s planned São Luiz do Tapajós dam is a key part of a massive plan for hydropower and navigable waterways in the Tapajós basin and on other Amazon River tributaries. The dam’s Environmental Impact Study (EIA) illustrates the fragility of protections. EIAs are supposed to provide input to decisions on development projects, but in practice these studies tend to become formalities in legalizing prior decisions made in the absence of information on or consideration of project impacts. The EIA has a tendency to minimize or ignore significant impacts. Loss of fisheries resources is likely to be critical for Munduruku indigenous people and for traditional riverside dwellers (ribeirinhos), but the EIA claims that there is "low expectation that natural conditions of aquatic environments will be significantly altered". The destruction of Munduruku sacred sites is simply ignored. The Brazilian government’s priority for the dam has resulted in blocking creation of the Munduruku’s Sawré Muybu indigenous land and other indigenous lands throughout Brazilian Amazonia. With the exception of one legally recognized community (Montanha e Mangabal), non-indigenous ribeirinhos are considered as not 'traditional people'. Even the one recognized community is not considered to require free, prior and informed consent. The São Luiz do Tapajós case illustrates problems in decision making in Brazil and in many other countries.

KEYWORDS: Hydropower, Indigenous people, EIA, Hydroelectric dams, Amazon, Brazil



 

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Virtual water and water footprints: Overreaching into the discourse on sustainability, efficiency, and equity

Dennis Wichelns
Bloomington, Indiana, USA; dwichelns@csufresno.edu

ABSTRACT: The notions of virtual water and water footprints were introduced originally to bring attention to the large amounts of water required to produce crops and livestock. Recently, several authors have begun applying those notions in efforts to describe efficiency, equity, and the sustainability of resources and production activities. In this paper, I describe why the notions of virtual water and water footprints are not appropriate for analysing issues pertaining to those topics. Both notions lack a supporting conceptual framework and they contain too little information to enhance understanding of important policy issues. Neither notion accounts for the opportunity cost or scarcity value of water in any setting, or the impacts of water availability and use on livelihoods. In addition, countries trade in goods and services – not in crop and livestock water requirements. Thus, the notions of virtual water and water footprints cannot provide helpful insight regarding the sustainability of water use, economic efficiency, or social equity. Gaining such insight requires the application of legitimate conceptual frameworks, representing a broad range of perspectives from the physical and social sciences, with due consideration of dynamics, uncertainty, and the impacts of policy choices on livelihoods and natural resources.

KEYWORDS: Agriculture, efficiency, food security, livelihoods, risk, trade, uncertainty



 

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On the sidelines: Social sciences and interdisciplinarity in an international research centre

Jean-Philippe Venot
IRD, UMR G-EAU, Montpellier, France; Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University; jean-philippe.venot@ird.fr

Mark Giordano
Georgetown’s University School of Foreign Service, Washington, DC, USA; mark.giordano@georgetown.edu

Douglas J. Merrey
Independent Consultant, Pittsboro, North Carolina, USA; dougmerrey@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: This paper reflects on the notion of interdisciplinarity in the research for development sector from a specific vantage point, that of social science researchers at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). Drawing from first-hand experiences of doing research at IWMI, a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, and a series of interviews with former and current staff, we highlight the disputed nature of social science research within the institute and link it to major challenges to interdisciplinary research practice. For research managers and non-social science researchers, social science research has always been, and still is, central to IWMI’s mission and current activities. Social science researchers, on the other hand, tend to think their work has progressively been sidelined from a core to a peripheral concern; they feel they are underrepresented in management and hence have little influence on strategic orientation. This reinforces a tendency to work in isolation and not engage in the unavoidable negotiations that characterise the workings of an organisation. The uneasiness felt by IWMI social science researchers is largely grounded in the fact that many do not share the view that IWMI’s objectives and research practices are value-neutral and that the purpose of social science research is to add human dimensions to natural science projects rather than lead to knowledge creation.

KEYWORDS: Social sciences, interdisciplinary research, international agriculture research organization, IWMI-International Water Management Institute, coupled human-natural systems, water resources management



 

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Viewpoint - Paradigm shift of water services in Finland: From production mentality to service mindset

Ossi Heino
Tampere University of Technology, Department of Chemistry and Bio-engineering, Tampere, Finland; ossi.heino@tut.fi

Annina Takala
Tampere University of Technology, Department of Chemistry and Bio-engineering, Tampere, Finland; annina.takala@tut.fi

ABSTRACT: In this article, the current management paradigm of water services in Finland is conceptualised. For this purpose, the managers of water utility in ten Finnish municipalities were interviewed. Consequently, the ways in which water services are perceived and managed are also described in this article. In addition, it is argued that the current paradigm produces systemic behaviour that can be considered to give rise to unsustainable ways of developing water services. Based on the problems of the current paradigm, an alternative paradigm is drafted that rethinks the value-creation logic. This alternative paradigm implies that one should be aware of the interactions between systems in which water services play a crucial role, and act accordingly.

KEYWORDS: Paradigm, value creation, water services, Finland