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Special Issue "Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Resources Management and Governance".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Leila M. Harris

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: environmental studies; social justice; gender; geography; water politics and governance; Turkey; Africa; Canada, participatory engagement, environmental justice
Guest Editor
Mr. Sameer H. Shah

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: water governance; water access; agriculture; rural livelihoods; mixed methodology; social justice; South Asia; East Asia
Guest Editor
Dr. Nicole J. Wilson

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: community-based monitoring; critical indigenous studies; environmental change, indigenous water governance, community-based research methodologies; water governance; arctic and sub-arctic
Guest Editor
Ms. Joanne Nelson

Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia
E-Mail
Interests: Indigenous water governance, urban Indigenous studies, Indigenous research methodologies, community based participatory research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Water Governance refers to “The range of political, organizational and administrative processes through which communities articulate their interests, their input is absorbed, decisions are made and implemented, and decision makers are held accountable in the development and management of water resources and delivery of water services” (Bakker 2003, p. 4).

Calls for good governance “help conceal the political and economic interests that lie behind the institutional arrangements, social relations, material practices and scalar configurations involved. If we are to employ this concept, then it is imperative we do so critically, carefully elucidating the political nature inherent in the institutional arrangements and socio-environmental relationships to which it refers” (Perreault 2014, p. 236).

While definitions of water governance vary, it is common for definitions to refer to the underlying institutional processes that shape how water uses, rights, and allocations are decided. The Global Water Partnership (GWP) defines water governance as “the range of political, social, economic and administrative systems that are in place to develop and manage water resources, and the delivery of water services, at different levels of society” (Rogers and Hall 2003, p. 7). With such definitions, there is at times insufficient attention to diverse actors, or movements that aim to frame, contest, and challenge particular water management or delivery frameworks. As such, although “politics” is often understood to be among the key forces guiding water-related decision-making processes, analyses that do not explicitly attend to such considerations --too often de-centering the ‘political.’ As well common orientations to solutions or appropriate technologies also often fail to engage directly with issues of justice, equity and power—considerations that might be more evident when we definitions such as those offered by scholars like Perreault and Bakker, above.

Our aim with this special issue is to highlight recent and emergent concepts and approaches to water governance that re-center the political in relation to water related decision-making, uses, and management. To do so is at once to focus on diverse ontologies, meanings and values of water, and related contestations regarding its use, or its importance for livelihoods, identity, or place-making. Building on insights from science and technology studies, or feminist and postcolonial approaches, we also aim to engage broadly with the ways that water related decision making is often depoliticized, and evacuated of political content or meaning—and to what effect.

This special issue invites engagement and (re)theorizations with the political in relation to water governance frameworks and decision-making processes. To do so, we are especially interested in work informed by political ecology, cultural politics, hydrosocial and hydropolitical approaches, environmental justice, hydrocitizenship, infrapolitics, political-economies of water, and water-related governmentalities. Key themes that would be especially welcome include work on:

  • Ecological politics, and political ecologies/economies of water governance.
  • Politics of environmental and social injustice and water governance (e.g. gender, race, class, sexuality).
  • Participatory politics, hydrocitizenship, and politics of ‘good’ governance.
  • Techno and infra-politics, including North-South technology and knowledge transfers.
  • Colonial politics and Indigenous water governance, or politics of Indigeneity
  • Politics of the human right to water and associated struggles, including cross-scalar analyses and linkages in connection.
  • Cultural and ontological politics and water values/politics of valuing water.
  • Politics of water insecurity, informality, public water, and of bottled/tanker water.

Contributions should advance theoretical, conceptual and empirical dimensions of politics critical to bring new insights to water governance practices and debates.

Deadline for abstract submissions: 31 August 2018

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2018

References

  1. Bakker, K. Good Governance in Restructuring Water Supply: A Handbook. Federation of Canadian Municipalities: Ottawa, Canada. 2003.
  2. Perreault, T. What kind of governance for what kind of equity? Towards a theorization of justice in water governance. Water Int. 2014, 39, 233–245.
  3. Rogers, P., Hall, A.W. Effective Water Governance: Learning from the Dialogues. Global Water Partnership: Stockholm, Sweden, 2003.

Prof. Leila M. Harris
Mr. Sameer H. Shah
Dr. Nicole Wilson
Ms. Joanne Nelson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • water governance
  • politics
  • contestation
  • water related struggle
  • decision-making processes
  • equity
  • justice
  • governmentalities
  • participation

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Re-Theorizing Politics in Water Governance
Water 2019, 11(7), 1470; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071470
Received: 22 June 2019 / Accepted: 26 June 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
PDF Full-text (263 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This Special Issue on water governance features a series of articles that highlight recent and emerging concepts, approaches, and case studies to re-center and re-theorize “the political” in relation to decision-making, use, and management—collectively, the governance of water. Key themes that emerged from [...] Read more.
This Special Issue on water governance features a series of articles that highlight recent and emerging concepts, approaches, and case studies to re-center and re-theorize “the political” in relation to decision-making, use, and management—collectively, the governance of water. Key themes that emerged from the contributions include the politics of water infrastructure and insecurity; participatory politics and multi-scalar governance dynamics; politics related to emergent technologies of water (bottled or packaged water, and water desalination); and Indigenous water governance. Further reflected is a focus on diverse ontologies, epistemologies, meanings and values of water, related contestations concerning its use, and water’s importance for livelihoods, identity, and place-making. Taken together, the articles in this Special Issue challenge the ways that water governance remains too often depoliticized and evacuated of political content or meaning. By re-centering the political, and by developing analytics that enable and support this endeavor, the contributions throughout highlight the varied, contested, and important ways that water governance needs to be recalibrated and enlivened with keen attention to politics—broadly understood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle
‘Social Control’ and the Politics of Public Participation in Water Remunicipalization, Cochabamba, Bolivia
Water 2019, 11(7), 1455; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071455
Received: 8 January 2019 / Revised: 5 May 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 14 July 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (261 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
During the Water War in 2000, residents of Cochabamba, Bolivia, famously mobilized against water privatization and gained back public control of the city’s water utility. Nearly two decades later, the water movement’s vision of democratic water provision under the participatory management of ‘social [...] Read more.
During the Water War in 2000, residents of Cochabamba, Bolivia, famously mobilized against water privatization and gained back public control of the city’s water utility. Nearly two decades later, the water movement’s vision of democratic water provision under the participatory management of ‘social control’ remains largely unfulfilled. This paper points to the difficulties in rebuilding a strong public water service in Cochabamba, focusing on the different—and often incompatible—understandings and interpretations of public participation. Addressing the concept’s malleability to a spectrum of ideologies, this paper builds a typology of different kinds of participation according to their intentionality, outcomes, tools, and practices. Applying this framework to the water politics in Bolivia serves to untangle competing perspectives of participation, uncover whose interests are served, and which groups are included or excluded from access to water and decision-making. This analysis reveals how transformative participation has failed to take hold within the municipal service provider in Cochabamba. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
Open AccessArticle
Unmapped Water Access: Locating the Role of Religion in Access to Municipal Water Supply in Ahmedabad
Water 2019, 11(6), 1282; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061282
Received: 6 November 2018 / Revised: 29 May 2019 / Accepted: 4 June 2019 / Published: 19 June 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2057 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Poor access to municipal water in Ahmedabad’s Muslim areas has been tied to the difficulties of implementing a planning mechanism called the town planning scheme, which, in turn, have been premised on widespread illegal constructions that have developed across these sites. Residents, local [...] Read more.
Poor access to municipal water in Ahmedabad’s Muslim areas has been tied to the difficulties of implementing a planning mechanism called the town planning scheme, which, in turn, have been premised on widespread illegal constructions that have developed across these sites. Residents, local politicians, and activists associate this causal explanation offered by engineers and planners for poor water access with a deliberate state-led intent to discriminate against them on the basis of religion. Using this causal association as a methodological entry-point, I examine through this paper how religious difference mediates decision-making and outcomes embodied by technical plans. Demonstrating how the uneven implementation of plans is not always a state-driven exercise as is often imagined, but instead a culmination of intense mediations between influential state and non-state actors with varying interests, I offer the following insights on water governance for sites divided by religion: (a) Negotiations driven by discourses on religious difference are a powerful force influencing the formulation of plans facilitating water access. However, these negotiations and plans are, simultaneously, also vulnerable to other political, legal, and economic pressures. Water governance across such sites thus often unfolds in an unstable landscape of unmapping and mapping; (b) influential legal actors from both majority and minority communities exert pressures obstructing the formulation and implementation of technical plans. The production of observable unmapped water access in minority areas thus, in reality, might not be contained within neat divides such as religion or illegality, but instead be a culmination of shifting interests, contestations, and negotiations confounding such categories; (c) institutionalized planning practices implicated in the intentional production of unmapping in such contexts might instead simply be discursive categories around which uneven water access coalesces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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Open AccessArticle
Payment for Ecosystem Services and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Securing Resource Flows for the Affluent?
Water 2019, 11(6), 1143; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061143
Received: 29 October 2018 / Revised: 23 May 2019 / Accepted: 24 May 2019 / Published: 31 May 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (991 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) is not only a prominent, globally promoted policy to foster nature conservation, but also increasingly propagated as an innovative and self-sustaining governance instrument to support poverty alleviation and to guarantee water, food, and energy securities. In this paper, [...] Read more.
Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) is not only a prominent, globally promoted policy to foster nature conservation, but also increasingly propagated as an innovative and self-sustaining governance instrument to support poverty alleviation and to guarantee water, food, and energy securities. In this paper, we evaluate a PES scheme from a multi-scalar and political-ecology perspective in order to reveal different power dynamics across the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus perspective. For this purpose, we analyze the PES scheme implemented in the Hidrosogamoso hydropower project in Colombia. The paper shows that actors’ strongly divergent economic and political power is determinant in defining how and for whom the Nexus-related water, food, and energy securities are materialized. In this case, the PES scheme and its scalar politics, as fostered by the private/public hydropower alliance, are instrumental to guaranteeing water security for the hydropower scheme, which is a crucial building-block of Colombia’s energy security discourse. For this, the water and food securities of the adjacent, less powerful communities are sacrificed. Examining the on-the-ground politics of WEF Nexus is key to understanding their impact on equitable and sustainable governance of water, energy, and food in the everyday lives of millions of resource users. We conclude that politicizing the Nexus can help to trace both the flows of resources and the flows of power. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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Open AccessArticle
“We Don’t Drink the Water Here”: The Reproduction of Undrinkable Water for First Nations in Canada
Water 2019, 11(5), 1079; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11051079
Received: 1 November 2018 / Revised: 16 May 2019 / Accepted: 20 May 2019 / Published: 23 May 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3125 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
First Nation communities in Canada are disproportionately plagued by undrinkable water and insufficient household sanitation. In addition, water resource management in First Nation communities has long been a technocratic and scientific mission controlled by state-led authorities. There has been limited engagement of First [...] Read more.
First Nation communities in Canada are disproportionately plagued by undrinkable water and insufficient household sanitation. In addition, water resource management in First Nation communities has long been a technocratic and scientific mission controlled by state-led authorities. There has been limited engagement of First Nations in decision-making around water management and water governance. As such, problems associated with access to drinkable water and household sanitation are commonly positioned as hydrological or environmental problems (flood or drought) to be fixed by technical and engineering solutions. This apolitical reading has been criticized for not addressing the root cause of the First Nation water problem, but instead, of reproducing it. In this paper, an approach using political ecology will tease out key factors contributing to the current water problem in many First Nation communities. Using case study research set in source water protection planning, this paper explains how persistent colonial practices of the state continue to reproduce undrinkable water and insufficient household sanitation. Solutions to this ‘water problem’ require greater attention to First Nations water governance capacity and structures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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Open AccessArticle
The Legal Geographies of Water Claims: Seawater Desalination in Mining Regions in Chile
Water 2019, 11(5), 886; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11050886
Received: 18 December 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2019 / Accepted: 23 April 2019 / Published: 27 April 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (993 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The use of desalination has been increasing in recent years. Although this is not a new technology, its use often proceeds within ill-defined and ambiguous legal, institutional, economic and political frameworks. This article addresses these considerations for the case of Chile, and offers [...] Read more.
The use of desalination has been increasing in recent years. Although this is not a new technology, its use often proceeds within ill-defined and ambiguous legal, institutional, economic and political frameworks. This article addresses these considerations for the case of Chile, and offers an evaluation of legal ambiguities regarding differences between desalinated water and other freshwater sources and associated consequences. This discussion reviews court records and legal documents of two companies operating desalination plants, both of which have simultaneous rights granted for underground water exploitation: the water supply company in the Antofagasta Region and Candelaria mining company in the Atacama Region. The analysis shows that issues of ambiguity and gaps in the legal system have been exploited in ways that allow these entities to continue the use and consumption of mountain water. They do so by producing desalinated water, and by entering into water transfer and diversion contracts with the mining sector. These findings highlight the importance of undefined socio-legal terrain in terms of shifting hydro-geographies of mining territories, contributing conceptually to critical geographies of desalination, delineating the importance of legal geographies important for water governance, as well as empirically documenting the significance of this case to consider shifts for the mining sector and water technologies and uses in contemporary Chile. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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Open AccessArticle
Whose Rules? A Water Justice Critique of the OECD’s 12 Principles on Water Governance
Water 2019, 11(4), 809; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040809
Received: 10 December 2018 / Revised: 1 April 2019 / Accepted: 5 April 2019 / Published: 18 April 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (246 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The article constructively critiques the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 12 Principles on Water Governance (the OECD Principles). The human rights standard, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), provided the foundation for conceptualizing Indigenous water rights. [...] Read more.
The article constructively critiques the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 12 Principles on Water Governance (the OECD Principles). The human rights standard, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), provided the foundation for conceptualizing Indigenous water rights. The analysis used a modification of Zwarteveen and Boelens’ 2014 framework of the four echelons of water contestation. The analysis indicates that the OECD Principles assume state authority over water governance, make invisible Indigenous peoples’ own water governance systems and perpetuate the discourses of water colonialism. Drawing on Indigenous peoples’ water declarations, the Anishinaabe ‘Seven Grandfathers’ as water governance principles and Haudenosaunee examples, we demonstrate that the OECD Principles privilege certain understandings of water over others, reinforcing the dominant discourses of water as a resource and water governance based on extractive relationships with water. Reconciling the OECD Principles with UNDRIP’s human rights standard promotes Indigenous water justice. One option is to develop a reinterpretation of the OECD Principles. A second, potentially more substantive option is to review and reform the OECD Principles. A reform might consider adding a new dimension, ‘water justice,’ to the OECD Principles. Before reinterpretation or reform can occur, broader input is needed, and inclusion of Indigenous peoples into that process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
Open AccessArticle
(Re)theorizing the Politics of Bottled Water: Water Insecurity in the Context of Weak Regulatory Regimes
Water 2019, 11(4), 658; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040658
Received: 6 December 2018 / Revised: 17 March 2019 / Accepted: 26 March 2019 / Published: 30 March 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (254 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Water insecurity in developing country contexts has frequently led individuals and entire communities to shift their consumptive patterns towards bottled water. Bottled water is sometimes touted as a mechanism to enact the human right to water through distribution across drought-stricken or infrastructure-compromised communities. [...] Read more.
Water insecurity in developing country contexts has frequently led individuals and entire communities to shift their consumptive patterns towards bottled water. Bottled water is sometimes touted as a mechanism to enact the human right to water through distribution across drought-stricken or infrastructure-compromised communities. However, the global bottled water industry is a multi-billion dollar major business. How did we reach a point where the commodification of a human right became not only commonly accepted but even promoted? In this paper, I argue that a discussion of the politics of bottled water necessitates a re-theorization of what constitutes “the political” and how politics affects policy decisions regarding the governance of bottled water. In this article I examine bottled water as a political phenomenon that occurs not in a vacuum but in a poorly regulated context. I explore the role of weakened regulatory regimes and regulatory capture in the emergence, consolidation and, ultimately, supremacy of bottled water over network-distributed, delivered-by-a-public utility tap water. My argument uses a combined framework that interweaves notions of “the political”, ideas on regulatory capture, the concept of “the public”, branding, and regulation theory to retheorize how we conceptualize the politics of bottled water. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
Open AccessArticle
I Want to Tell You a Story: How Narrative Water Ethics Contributes to Re-theorizing Water Politics
Water 2019, 11(4), 631; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040631
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 23 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 27 March 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (505 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores potential contributions of narrative ethics to the re-theorization of the political in water governance, particularly seeking to rectify concerns regarding when water is excluded from cultural contexts and issues of power and dominance are ignored. Against this background, this paper [...] Read more.
This paper explores potential contributions of narrative ethics to the re-theorization of the political in water governance, particularly seeking to rectify concerns regarding when water is excluded from cultural contexts and issues of power and dominance are ignored. Against this background, this paper argues for a re-theorization of the political in water governance, understood as the way in which diverse ideas about possible and desirable human-water relationships and just configurations for their institutionalization are negotiated in society. Theorization is conceived as the concretization of reality rather than its abstraction. Narrative ethics deals with the narrative structure of moral action and the significance of narrations for moral action. It occupies a middle ground and mediates between descriptive ethics that describe moral practices, and prescriptive ethics that substantiate binding norms. A distinguishing feature is its focus on people’s experiences and their praxis. Narrative water ethics is thus able to recognize the multitude of real and possible human-water relationships, to grasp people’s entanglement in their water stories, to examine moral issues in their cultural contexts, and, finally, to develop locally adapted notions of good water governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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Open AccessArticle
Water is Medicine: Reimagining Water Security through Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Relationships to Treated and Traditional Water Sources in Yukon, Canada
Water 2019, 11(3), 624; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030624
Received: 5 November 2018 / Revised: 15 March 2019 / Accepted: 20 March 2019 / Published: 26 March 2019
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (837 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is growing acknowledgement that the material dimensions of water security alone are inadequate; we also need to engage with a broader set of hydrosocial relationships. Indeed, more holistic approaches are needed to explain Indigenous peoples’ relationships to water including the use of [...] Read more.
There is growing acknowledgement that the material dimensions of water security alone are inadequate; we also need to engage with a broader set of hydrosocial relationships. Indeed, more holistic approaches are needed to explain Indigenous peoples’ relationships to water including the use of traditional water sources such as mountain creeks and springs. In this paper, we seek to reimagine water security through a case study of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s relationships to both treated and traditional water sources throughout the First Nation’s traditional territory in Yukon, Canada. Through community-based research including interviews with Elders and other community members, we examine the importance of traditional water sources for meeting important health requirements including physical, spiritual and cultural wellbeing. This intervention contributes to ongoing debates about what it means to secure safe and affordable water in three key ways: First, we argue that Indigenous water relations invite a shift towards more a holistic understanding of water security; second, we contend that settler colonial politics should be understood as a root cause of water insecurity; finally, we explore how Two-Eyed Seeing can be applied as an alternative to the ‘integration’ of Western scientific and Indigenous approaches to drinking water. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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Open AccessArticle
Indigenous Processes of Consent: Repoliticizing Water Governance through Legal Pluralism
Water 2019, 11(3), 571; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030571
Received: 1 November 2018 / Revised: 3 March 2019 / Accepted: 12 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (358 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While international instruments and a few state governments endorse the “free, prior and informed consent” of Indigenous peoples in decision-making about the water in their traditional territories, most state water governance regimes do not recognize Indigenous water rights and responsibilities. Applying a political [...] Read more.
While international instruments and a few state governments endorse the “free, prior and informed consent” of Indigenous peoples in decision-making about the water in their traditional territories, most state water governance regimes do not recognize Indigenous water rights and responsibilities. Applying a political ecology lens to the settler colonialism of water governance exposes the continued depoliticizing personality of natural resources decision-making and reveals water as an abstract, static resource in law and governance processes. Most plainly, these decision-making processes inadequately consider environmental flows or cumulative effects and are at odds with both Indigenous governance and social-ecological approaches to watershed management. Using the example of groundwater licensing in British Columbia, Canada as reinforcing colonialism in water governance, this article examines how First Nations are asserting Indigenous rights in response to natural resource decision-making. Both within and outside of colonial governance processes they are establishing administrative and governance structures that express their water laws and jurisdiction. These structures include the Syilx, Nadleh Wut’en and Stellat’en creating standards for water, the Tsleil-Waututh and Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc community assessments of proposed pipeline and mining facilities, and the First Nations of the Nicola Valley planning process based on their own legal traditions. Where provincial and federal environmental governance has failed, Indigenous communities are repoliticizing colonial decision-making processes to shift jurisdiction towards Indigenous processes that institutionalize responsibilities for and relationships with water. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
Open AccessArticle
The User and the Association: Neglecting Household Irrigation as Neglecting Household Well-Being in the Creation of Water Users’ Associations in the Republic of Tajikistan
Water 2019, 11(3), 505; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030505
Received: 1 November 2018 / Revised: 11 February 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 11 March 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1472 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Development initiatives often cite Water Users’ Associations (WUAs) as fundamental to water governance reform or the broad process of decentralizing responsibilities for management, supply and delivery. But the label of “WUA” indicates little about those who take on these duties as association members, [...] Read more.
Development initiatives often cite Water Users’ Associations (WUAs) as fundamental to water governance reform or the broad process of decentralizing responsibilities for management, supply and delivery. But the label of “WUA” indicates little about those who take on these duties as association members, suggesting all who use water in pursuit of life or livelihood are eligible to participate and benefit through collective action. Grounded in the belief that participatory projects can equitably empower and distribute resources, the enthusiastic introduction of WUAs continues despite critique that anticipated outcomes are overstated. Since borders opened to neoliberal development institutions in the 1990s, WUAs have been created throughout post-Soviet Central Asia. Yet, there has been limited reflection on how associations’ design and operation interact with physical or social structures to effect resource access across diverse groups. Drawing on fieldwork in Tajikistan, I demonstrate how WUAs reproduce exclusionary outcomes by requiring members to possess farmland in turn threatening rural food security. Held by a minority, farmland dedicated to commercial production stands in contrast to ubiquitous kitchen gardens, where crops sown for self-consumption form a buffer against hunger in the wake of labor migration and income inconsistency. Households’ inability to become members undermines their claim to water and voice in decision-making, ultimately constraining access to irrigation and a robust harvest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards A Situated Urban Political Ecology Analysis of Packaged Drinking Water Supply
Water 2019, 11(2), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020225
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 10 January 2019 / Accepted: 23 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (871 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The inclusion of packaged drinking water (PDW) as a potentially improved source of safe drinking water under Goal 6.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) reflects its growing significance in cities where piped water has never been universal or safe for drinking. Using [...] Read more.
The inclusion of packaged drinking water (PDW) as a potentially improved source of safe drinking water under Goal 6.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) reflects its growing significance in cities where piped water has never been universal or safe for drinking. Using the case of PDW in Jakarta, Indonesia, we call for theorizing the politics of PDW through a situated Urban Political Ecology (UPE) analysis of the wider urban water distributions in which it is inserted. We do so in order to interrogate the unevenness of individual “choices” for securing safe drinking water, and highlight the ambiguity of PDW’s impact on inequalities in access. We first review research on PDW supply to specify how dominant theoretical approaches used for understanding PDW supply through analyses of the individual making “choices” for drinking water are power neutral, and why this matters for achieving equitable water access. We illustrate these points through a case study of PDW consumption by low income residents in Jakarta, and then identify how a situated UPE framework can help attend to the uneven societal relations shaping different socio-material conditions, within which individual “choices” for PDW are made. For Jakarta, connecting choices of the individual to power relations shaping geographies of urban water access and risk explains the rise in PDW consumption by low income residents as a situated response to the uneven exposure of poorer residents to environmental hazards. We conclude with reflections on how this can inform interventions towards more just distributions of safe drinking water. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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Open AccessArticle
Anishinabek Women’s Nibi Giikendaaswin (Water Knowledge)
Water 2019, 11(2), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020209
Received: 2 November 2018 / Revised: 18 January 2019 / Accepted: 23 January 2019 / Published: 26 January 2019
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (216 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper springs from conversations and my life experiences with Anishinabek Elders and practitioners, which includes my understanding of my life journey in re-searching for Anishinabe qwe (woman) giikendaaswin (knowledge, information, and the synthesis of our personal teachings). Anishinabek women have giikendaaswin about [...] Read more.
This paper springs from conversations and my life experiences with Anishinabek Elders and practitioners, which includes my understanding of my life journey in re-searching for Anishinabe qwe (woman) giikendaaswin (knowledge, information, and the synthesis of our personal teachings). Anishinabek women have giikendaaswin about nibi (water) that can transform nibi (water) governance. Re-searching for giikendaaswin is directly linked to inclusive decision-making. This paper describes how Anishinabek understand and construct giikendaaswin based on Anishinabek ontology and epistemology, which includes nibi (water) giikendaaswin. This supports what Anishinabek know, how we come to know, how we know it to be true, and ultimately why we seek giikendaaswin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
Open AccessArticle
Ebbs and Flows of Authority: Decentralization, Development and the Hydrosocial Cycle in Lesotho
Water 2019, 11(2), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020184
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 17 January 2019 / Accepted: 20 January 2019 / Published: 22 January 2019
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Abstract
Dominant development discourse holds that water scarcity reflects geophysical limitations, lack of infrastructure or lack of government provision. However, this paper outlines the ways in which scarcity can only be fully explained in the context of development, specifically, neoliberal economic policies and related [...] Read more.
Dominant development discourse holds that water scarcity reflects geophysical limitations, lack of infrastructure or lack of government provision. However, this paper outlines the ways in which scarcity can only be fully explained in the context of development, specifically, neoliberal economic policies and related notions of good governance. Water is Lesotho’s primary natural resource, yet many of its inhabitants remain severely water insecure. Presently, decentralization and Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) are embraced in Lesotho as a philosophy and method to engage varied stakeholders and to empower community members. Using a water committee in Qalo, Lesotho as a case study, this paper explores the micro-politics of water governance. As individuals contest who is responsible for managing water resources for the village—by aligning themselves with traditional chiefs, elected officials, or neither—they transform or reinforce specific hydro-social configurations. While decentralized resource management aims to increase equity and local ownership over resources, as well as moderate the authority of traditional chiefs, water access is instead impacted by conflicts over management responsibility for water resources. Drawing on theories of political ecology and governmentality to extend recent scholarship on IWRM, this paper re-centers the political in water governance by situating local tensions within national policies and development agendas and demonstrating how scarcity is hydro-social. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
Open AccessArticle
Disputing the ‘National Interest’: The Depoliticization and Repoliticization of the Belo Monte Dam, Brazil
Water 2019, 11(1), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010103
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 20 December 2018 / Accepted: 21 December 2018 / Published: 9 January 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (285 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The construction of a hydroelectric project transforms the watershed in which it is located, leading to a moment of contestation in which the scheme is challenged by opposition actors. This paper explores the interplay between pro- and anti-dam coalitions contesting the Belo Monte [...] Read more.
The construction of a hydroelectric project transforms the watershed in which it is located, leading to a moment of contestation in which the scheme is challenged by opposition actors. This paper explores the interplay between pro- and anti-dam coalitions contesting the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil by discussing how each group inscribes the project with a particular resonance in policy. Drawing upon the work of Chantal Mouffe on agonism and Tania Murray Li on ‘rendering technical’, the subsequent discussion analyzes semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and primary documents to explore how the storylines advanced by pro- and anti-dam actors contest the political character of Belo Monte. It is argued that within these storylines, Belo Monte’s positioning within the ‘national interest’ represents a key site of the project’s depoliticization and repoliticization—which are understood as the respective denial and illumination of the project’s location within a wider terrain of political antagonism and conflict. Whilst pro-dam actors assert the apolitical character of the project by foregrounding it within depoliticized questions of economic benefits, anti-dam actors reground the project within a context of political corruption and the circumvention of dissent. With this paper providing evidence of how contests over dam construction are linked to the concealing and/or illumination of the project’s political content, it is argued that the repoliticization of a project by a resistance movement can have consequences far beyond the immediate site of construction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)

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Spatio-Temporality and Tribal Water Quality Governance in the United States
Water 2019, 11(1), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010099
Received: 10 November 2018 / Revised: 24 December 2018 / Accepted: 2 January 2019 / Published: 9 January 2019
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (229 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Hydrosocial spatio-temporalities—aspects of water belonging to space, time, or space-time—are central to water governance, providing a framework upon which overall hydrosocial relations are constructed, and are fundamental to the establishment of values and central to socio-cultural-political relationships. Moreover, spatio-temporal conceptions may differ among [...] Read more.
Hydrosocial spatio-temporalities—aspects of water belonging to space, time, or space-time—are central to water governance, providing a framework upon which overall hydrosocial relations are constructed, and are fundamental to the establishment of values and central to socio-cultural-political relationships. Moreover, spatio-temporal conceptions may differ among diverse governing entities and across scales, creating “variability” through ontological pluralism, as well as power asymmetries embedded in cultural bias. This paper explores spatio-temporal conceptions related to water quality governance, an aspect of water governance often biased toward technical and scientific space-time conceptions. We offer examples of different aspects of spatio-temporality in water quality issues among Tribes in the United States, highlighting several themes, including spatiotemporal cycles, technological mediation, and interrelationship and fluidity. Finally, we suggest that because water is part of a dynamic network of space-times, water quality may be best governed through more holistic practices that recognize tribal sovereignty and hydrosocial variability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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