Spatial displacement and temporal deferral: Toward an alternative explanation of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin water conflict

Johnny King Alaziz Wong
College of Geosciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, US; jwong@mail.usf.edu

M. Martin Bosman
College of Geosciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, US; bosman@usf.edu

ABSTRACT: The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin conflict officially began in 1989 and despite ongoing declarations of readiness to seek a negotiated outcome to the conflict, there is still no end in sight. In fact, 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of this conflict. In this paper, we depart from conventional explanations of the crisis and propose an alternative theoretical point of entry to draw attention to the key structural forces driving water accumulation strategies in the basin. In doing so, we turn to David Harvey’s theoretical framework of capitalist growth and crisis to present an alternative understanding of the water conflict. By adopting this framework, we will reveal how the most dominant political and economic actor in the conflict, metro-Atlanta, has devised a series of spatial and temporal strategies to delay and displace a resolution while simultaneously using the impasse to entrench its economic and territorial interests to secure as much water as possible from the ACF water basin. The paper emphasises the crisis of capitalism in the form of suburbanisation in metro-Atlanta as the primary context in which the water conflict exists.

KEYWORDS: Water conflicts, capitalism, spatiotemporal fix, switching crisis, accumulation by dispossession, ACF conflict