Volume 27, Issue 2

June 2011

Research Article

Water Governance in Canada: Innovation and Fragmentation

Karen Bakkerand Christina Cookb
aProgram on Water Governance, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada; bInstitute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Contact: Karen Bakker | Email: bakker@geog.ubc.ca


This paper explores Canada’s approach to water governance. It argues that fragmented governance has had negative impacts on Canada’s ability to manage water resources adequately (particularly in the context of urbanization, agriculture and resource extraction), and to deal with new issues (such as climate change). Further, it argues that Canada’s highly decentralized approach to water governance creates challenges of integration, coordination and data availability. The paper explores possible future strategies for innovations in water governance that may have the potential to improve water management outcomes.

Pages: 275-289


Research Article

Water Right Prices in the Rio Grande: Analysis and Policy Implications

Leeann De Mouchea, Shawn Landfairc and Frank A. Wardb

aExtension Plant Sciences Department; bDepartment of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business; cCollege of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces,NM, USA

Contact: Frank A. Ward | Email: fward@nmsu.edu


Climate change, water supply limits, growing environmental values of water and worldwide population growth continue to raise the scarcity of water. These challenges have intensified the transfer of water from farms to cities. Water right transfers are an important international institution to stretch water supplies. In North America’s Rio Grande Basin water right transfers are an especially important institution for meeting the growth in urban demands. Despite the importance of water right transfers as a social institution, sellers face uncertainty on the asking price, while buyers face similar uncertainty on the offer price. Weak information on water right prices stymies water transfers while limiting the future resilience of water transfers to address climate change and the need to cope with change in water supplies and demands. This paper describes the development of a database on water right prices using observed transactions from 1980 to 2007. An empirical model was developed using the data to identify important factors influencing those prices. Five water right price predictors were found to be significant: total regional urban water use, priority date of the water right, quantity of water rights offered for sale, regional reservoir storage volume, and regional farm income. Depending on the future status of food scarcity and urban water conservation programmes, water right prices in the basin could grow from zero to 27% over 2010–2020.

Pages: 291-314


Research Article

Why a Water Soft Path, Why Now and What Then?

David B. Brooksa and Oliver M. Brandesb
aFriends of the Earth Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada; bPOLIS Project on Ecological Governance, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada

Contact: David B. Brooks | Email: david.b.brooks34@gmail.com


The best way to achieve a sustainable future for fresh water is to develop decision making processes, institutions, and technologies that emphasize both efficiency and conservation. These two terms are commonly treated as synonyms, but, respectively, they reflect anthropogenic and ecological bases for making decisions. Recognizing that both perspectives are valid, this article outlines a new approach to water planning and management called the water soft path. This approach differs fundamentally from conventional, supply-based approaches. The article reviews the transfer of the original soft path concept from energy to water, and summarizes the first applications of water soft path analytics to specific geographic areas: one urban area, one province, and one watershed in Canada. The article concludes with suggestions for further research, as well as steps to improve recognition of the water soft path as a planning tool that can move management and policies towards economic, ecological, and social sustainability.

Pages: 315-344


Research Article

Why Is Non-revenue Water So High in So Many Cities?

Francisco González-Gómeza,b, Miguel A. García-Rubioa and Jorge Guardiolaa,c
aDepartment of Applied Economics, Faculty of Economics and Business, Granada, Spain; bWater Research Institute, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain; cRed de Malnutrición en Iberoamérica

Contact: Jorge Guardiola | Email: jguardiola@ugr.es


The efficient management of water resources is a growing necessity. Paradoxically, although people are aware of this need, non-revenue water is excessive in many cities in the world. Non-revenue water data indicate that there is much room for improvement in water resource management in cities and they also suggest a lack of motivation to solve the problem in the shortterm. This paper investigates the reasons why non-revenue water is so high in many cities around the world. The lack of incentives for management units, the defence of private interests due to corruption, the lack of awareness of citizens-users of the water service and the lack of political willingness are the main causes.

Pages: 345-360


Research Article

Efficiency of Urban Water Supply Utilities in India

Piyush Tiwari and Manisha Gulati
Infrastructure Development Finance Company, Mumbai, India

Contact: Piyush Tiwari | Email: piyush.tiwari@idfc.com


The two parameters of services output of water utilities are the per capita water available for consumption and the hours for which water is supplied per day. However, water utilities in India differ on the level of these outputs substantially. This paper uses the data for water utilities in 31 cities to analyse their performance in delivery of services. Using data envelopment analysis, a measure of technical efficiency for various utilities is calculated. The results indicate that water utilities can increase the delivery of water on a per capita basis and increase the hours of supply per day by about 18%. Nearly 37% of the increase in services could result from changing the scale of operation. This paper also discusses if the institutional framework within which these utilities operate has implications on their efficiency.

Pages: 361-374


Research Article

Agricultural Groundwater Management in Andhra Pradesh, India: A Focus on Free Electricity Policy and its Reform

Rajendra Kondepati
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Contact: Rajendra Kondepati | Email: rajendra.kondepati@gmail.com


The impact of the free electricity policy on agriculture in the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), India, is the main focus of this work. It is assumed that this policy has a very high political currency and there is, therefore, a difficultly in recalling it in the short-term. In this context, plausible reforms to this policy are explored with an objective to weed out the inefficiencies in this subsidy regime in the context of groundwater extraction and utilization. These reforms are aimed at reducing the ambit of beneficiaries of this subsidy based on their affordability and increasing the water productivity of agriculture in the state. Some examples exclude large farmers from this policy, offering free electricity conditional upon adopting the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) or adopting micro-irrigation or shifting cropping patterns. These alternate policies are evaluated based on the impact on groundwater extraction, fiscal costs, equity, political feasibility, issues in implementation etc. Finally, it is suggested that the government offers free electricity conditional upon adopting water-efficient cropping practices such as the SRI as a short-term step for increasing the effectiveness of this policy and mitigating its adverse impact on groundwater extraction.

Pages: 375-386


Research Article

Water Policy and Regulatory Reform in New Zealand

R. M. Fishera and S. Russellb
aNatural Resources Centre, the Open Polytechnic, Lower Hutt, New Zealand; bLandcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand

Contact: R. M. Fisher | Email: Rick.Fisher@openpolytechnic.ac.nz


New Zealand faces unusual water challenges. The country relies heavily upon agricultural exports. This has resulted in the adoption of a permissive, devolved system of water management. However, the intensification of land use has resulted in significant water degradation, and stretched the capacity of local government to address competing water needs. Water resource management has largely been devolved to local government with limited national policy guidance creating further tensions. This paper summarizes recent water policy and reform in New Zealand, and discusses how central government is attempting to reinvigorate national guidance for future water management.

Pages: 387-400


Research Article

Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Water Management Policies in Bangladesh

Sudip K. Pala, Adebayo J. Adeloyea, Mukand S. Babelb and Ashim Das Guptab
aSchool of the Built-Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK; bWater Engineering & Management, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Pathumthani, Thailand

Contact: Sudip K. Pal | Email: skp7@hw.ac.uk


Water resources development and management policies initiatives in Bangladesh are primarily driven by the need for sufficient food grain production for the country’s teeming population and curtailing the perennial flooding problems. It is therefore necessary to investigate whether or not these objectives are being met. The aim of this study is to evaluate the impacts of past water resources development and management strategies on agriculture, food security, flood management and socio-economic development in Bangladesh. The research is based on the historical data of the relevant parameters of the water resources management over the period 1947-2005. The outcomes of the study demonstrate that past policies and strategies of water development have resulted in significant irrigation expansion, especially through intensified groundwater utilization, which has helped to achieve the country’s primary objective of self-sufficiency in food production. However, the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities still remains a challenge in the country. Similarly, the impact of the flood control policies was diverse with success mostly apparent with regard to protection against modest events, while catastrophic, extreme events still effectively defying answer.

Pages: 401-417


Conference Report

IV International Experts’ Meeting on Water Management and Climate Change: Dealing with Uncertainties »