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Water 2013, 5(2), 643-658; doi:10.3390/w5020643

Evolution of Water Management in Shanxi and Shaanxi Provinces since the Ming and Qing Dynasties of China

1
College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Qingdao Agricultural University, Qingdao 266109, China
2
Department of Resource Management and Geography, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
3
Key Laboratory of Efficient Irrigation-Drainage and Agricultural Soil-Water Environment in Southern China (Ministry of Education), College of Water Conservancy and Hydropower Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 March 2013 / Revised: 22 May 2013 / Accepted: 26 May 2013 / Published: 4 June 2013
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Abstract

This article examines some of the forms of water management in Shanxi [山西] and Shaanxi [陕西] provinces during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Facing serious water shortages and shrinking state power for water management, the local society in Shanxi and Shaanxi took over water management and gradually formed a local self-government system for the water resources. Depending on water management organizations in which the local gentry were the core power, the water rules were based on natural topographic conditions, historical water practices in the locality, traditional moral-ethical ideas, and even water policies and water laws. This water management system played a positive role in mobilizing the participation of members, preventing opportunistic behavior such as free riding and rent seeking, while decreasing the probability of water conflicts and the costs of litigation. However, this water management system was also subject to endemic corruption because of the lack of effective monitoring from the local government. As similar problems appear to exist in China today, this article analyzes the features of this water management system, and examines the problems that faced those systems so as to provide a warning from history for modern society.
Keywords: water management; local self-government; Shanxi; Shaanxi; Ming and Qing dynasties water management; local self-government; Shanxi; Shaanxi; Ming and Qing dynasties
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Dang, X.; Webber, M.; Chen, D.; Wang, M.Y. Evolution of Water Management in Shanxi and Shaanxi Provinces since the Ming and Qing Dynasties of China. Water 2013, 5, 643-658.

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