Volume 28, Issue 4

December 2012

Research Article

Economics of Agricultural Water Conservation: Empirical Analysis and Policy Implications

Macarena Dagninoa and Frank A. Wardb
Department of Management and Institutions, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands; bDepartment of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, USA

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


Climate change and recurrent drought in many of the world’s dry places continue to inspire the search for economically attractive measures to conserve water. This study analyzes water conservation practices in irrigated agriculture in a sub-basin in North America’s Rio Grande. A method is developed to estimate water savings in irrigated agriculture that result from public subsidies to farmers who convert from surface to drip irrigation. The method accounts for economic incentives affecting farmers’ choices on irrigation technology, crop mix, water application, and water depletion. Findings show that farmers will invest in technologies that reduce water applications when faced with lower financial costs for converting to drip irrigation. Subsidies for drip irrigation increase farm income, raise the value of food production, and reduce the amount of water applied to crops. However, an unexpected result is that water conservation subsidies that promote conversion to drip irrigation can increase the demand for water depleted by crops. Our findings show that where water rights exist, water rights administrators will need to guard against increased depletion of the water source in the face of growing subsidies for drip irrigation. Our approach for analyzing water conservation programmes can be applied where water is scarce, irrigation is significant, food security is important, and water conservation policies are under debate.

Pages: 577-600


Research Article

Implications of Biofuel Policies for Water Management in India

Shahnila Islam
Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Contact: Shahnila Islam | Email: shahnila@nus.edu.sg


India has developed a national biofuel policy to increase energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate rural development. In this policy, the government has setblending targets for mixing ethanol and biodiesel with gasoline and diesel, respectively. In India, ethanol is produced from irrigated sugar-cane while biodiesel is produced from jatropha, which is said to require no irrigation. This paper analyzes the possible impacts of an increase in sugar-cane and jatropha production on water management and use. It finds that India’s biofuel policy is likely to place additional pressure on scarce water resources. Although the development of biofuels may be necessary, care must be taken to anticipate its likely impacts on water resources.

Pages: 601-613


Research Article

Analysis of Arizona’s Water Resources System

Jesús R. Gastélum
Central Arizona Project, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Contact: Jesús R. Gastélum | Email: jgastelum@cap-az.com


An analysis of Arizona’s water resources system has been implemented. This study uses a qualitative system analysis approach to evaluate the most important components of the system: water supply, water demand, laws and regulations, stakeholders, decision makers, etc. Moreover, the investigation centres on some key components of the water resources system such as water conservation in active management areas (AMA), rural Arizona, population growth, and water rights transfers. This study provides insights on these important components, identifies factors that can be enhanced and offers suggestions for improving them. The overall goal of this analysis is to contribute ideas that will help to establish a more efficient and holistic programme to secure sustainable development of water resources.

Pages: 615-628


Research Article

Democratic Legitimacy of New Forms of Water Management in the Netherlands

Arwin Van Buuren, Erik-Hans Klijn and Jurian Edelenbos
Department of Public Administration, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Contact: Arwin Van Buuren | Email: vanbuuren@fsw.eur.nl


Due to changes in the Dutch flood management paradigm, governance practices have been shifting from technocratic and state-oriented towards more collaborative governance approaches in which many governmental actors, together with private and societal actors, search out integral solutions. This shift has had an impact on how water management is legitimized. This paper evaluates two water governance processes that reflect the new management paradigm in different ways, and analyzes how these changing paradigms influence the democratic legitimacy of water governance. It is concluded that the extent to which the new paradigm is implemented influences the way in which democratic legitimacy is organized. It is also shown that new forms of democratic legitimacy do not replace existing ones but rather contribute to hybrid and contextualized forms of legitimacy.

Pages: 629-645


Research Article

Cleaning of the Singapore River and Kallang Basin in Singapore: Economic, Social, and Environmental Dimensions

Yugal Kishore Joshia, Cecilia Tortajadab and Asit K. Biswasc
aIndian Railways, New Delhi, and formerly Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore; bThird World Centre for Water Management, Mexico, and formerly Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; cLee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Contact: Cecilia Tortajada | Email: cecilia.tortajada@gmail.com


By 1977, decades of development and inadequate long-term planning in Singapore had resulted in heavy pollution in the waterways of the city-state, threatening its very survival. This paper analyzes the strategies for cleaning the Singapore River and Kallang Basin as part of an overall development plan which aimed at sustained growth. It also analyzes the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of these strategies not only to improve the conditions of the rivers and their surroundings, but also to develop the city-state, provide its population with an improved quality of life, including a clean environment, and most importantly, propel Singapore towards the path to sustainability and economic prosperity.

Pages: 647-658


Research Article

Rule of Capture and Urban Sprawl: A Potential Federal Financial Risk in Groundwater-Dependent Areas

Rosemary A. Burka  and Jan Kallbergb
aDepartment of Biological Sciences, Institute of Applied Science, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, United States; bDepartment of Public Affairs, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas, United States

Contact: Rosemary A. Burk | Email: rosemary@unt.edu


This paper illustrates the potential federal financial risk created by groundwater overabstraction, rapid urbanization, competing economic interests, and institutional arrangements in groundwater-dependent areas of Texas. In the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, located in the Dallas –Fort Worth metropolitan area, urban sprawl creates suburbanized rural areas reliant upon the Upper Trinity Aquifer. In the past 10 years, competition of economic interests for groundwater has intensified, as the area has experienced rapid urban sprawl combined with escalating Barnett Shale hydraulic fracturing activity, which coincided with two extreme droughts in 2006 and 2011. Urban sprawl generates business opportunities and tax revenues for state and local governments in the short term, but if groundwater overabstraction leads to land subsidence, financial risk is transferred to the federal government through increased risk exposure from federal housing loans and government-backed residential lending.

Pages: 659-673


Research Article

The Political Economy of Water Service Privatization in Mexico City, 1994–2011 

Gregory Pierce
Department of Urban Planning, University of California at Los Angeles, USA

Contact: Gregory Pierce | Email: gspierce@ucla.edu


This paper chronicles the implementation of water service privatization to combat severe water shortage in Mexico City, also known as the Distrito Federal (DF), from 1994 to 2011. Initially, the DF’s administration successfully employed private actors to provide more extensive and efficient service while retaining public control of infrastructure. Privatization in the DF was unique in its competitive service structure and the support provided it by the city’s populist government. However, political manoeuvring stalled progress in contract governance, network extension, and regional coordination, suggesting the need for more robust accountability structures linking municipal and national political outcomes to household service delivery. An improved theoretical understanding of how stakeholders can collectively manage common pool resources in the urban environments of middle-income countries is also essential.

Pages: 675-691


Book Review

Transboundary Water Resources Management: A Multidisciplinary Approach »