Volume 31, Issue 1

March 2015

Editorial »
Cecilia Tortajada

Research Article

Entry into force of the UN Watercourses Convention: why should it matter?

Salman M.A. Salman
Fellow, International Water Resources Association (IWRA)

Contact: Salman M.A. Salman | Email: salmanmasalman@gmail.com


The United Nations Watercourses Convention entered into force on 17 August 2014, following a long and complex journey that dates back to 1970 when the UN referred the matter to its legal arm, the International Law Commission. This article follows the Convention through that long and turbulent road, examines its main provisions and analyses the reasons for the delay of its entry into force. It concludes by answering the question of why entry into force of the Convention should indeed matter.

Pages: 4-16


Research Article

Minute 319 of the International Boundary and Water Commission between the US and Mexico: Colorado River binational water management implications

Vicente Sancheza and Alfonso A. Cortez-Larab
aDepartment of Public Administration Studies, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, Mexico; bDepartment of Urban and Environmental Studies, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Mexicali, Mexico

Contact: Vicente Sanchez | Email: vsanchez@colef.mx


On 20 November 2012, Minute 319 of the International Boundary and Water Commission was signed by the commissioners of Mexico and the United States. It establishes measures for binational water management until 2017.This agreement aims to combine the efforts of officials of the two countries to find cooperative mechanisms that address water shortage in the Colorado River basin. The agreement mostly refers to the storage of Mexican water by the Hoover Dam in the United States, which, under the rule of the 1944 Water Treaty, should be suitably managed by the two countries, in view of predicted climate change impacts such as extreme drought and the consequent reduction of water availability at the basin level. This article addresses some likely implications for the signing countries regarding the implementation of measures established in the minute.

Pages: 17-27


Research Article

Impact of upstream anthropogenic river regulation on downstream water availability in transboundary river watersheds

Furat A.M. Al-Faraj and Miklas Scholz
Civil Engineering Research Group, School of Computing, Science and Engineering, University of Salford, Greater Manchester, UK

Contact: Miklas Scholz | Email: m.scholz@salford.ac.uk


This article assesses the adverse impact of upstream anthropogenic regulation of a transboundary river watershed on the natural flow regime of the downstream country, by focusing on a case study: the Diyala (Sırvan) River watershed shared between Iraq and Iran. The article explores transboundary watershed management difficulties in a three-level system called the transboundary three-scalar framework, which helps to sustainably manage water resources. The average rates of reduction in flow between 2004 and 2013 ranged from nearly 24% in February to about 77% in September. The median of the reduction of rates between June and October was 66.4%.

Pages: 28-49


Research Article

Re-engineering closing watersheds: The negotiated expansion of a dam-based irrigation system in Bolivia

Rígel Rocha Lópeza, Linden Vincentb and Edwin Rapc
aAndean Centre for Water Management and Use (Centro AGUA), San Simon University, Cochabamba, Bolivia; bWater Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands; cInternational Water Management Institute, c/o International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Cairo, Egypt

Contact: Rígel Rocha López | Email: rigel.rocha@centro-agua.org


The expansion of the Totora Khocha dam-based irrigation system in the Pucara watershed is a case of planned re-engineering of a closing watershed. This article shows how, when irrigation systems expand in space and across boundaries to capture new water, they also involve new claims by existing and emergent users. This results in complex processes of design, contestation and negotiated redesign, where irrigation projects are being produced by the negotiated construction of water networks. Therefore, the design process in a closing watershed is better approached as a dynamic and negotiated process of engineering than as a prescriptive mode of network building.

Pages: 50-63


Research Article

Compensation policy in a large development project: the case of the Bakun hydroelectric dam

Wen Chiat Leea, K. Kuperan Viswanathanb and Jamal Alia
aSchool of Economics, Finance and Banking, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok; bOthman Yeop Abdullah Graduate School of Business, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok

Contact: Wen Chiat Lee | Email: wenchiat86@gmail.com


Compensation to indigenous communities forced to relocate as a result of a development project is examined in this study. A survey of 379 families displaced by the construction of the Bakun Dam in Sarawak, Malaysia, reveals a high level of dissatisfaction with the compensation provided. The compensation given by the government to the relocated indigenous communities was lower than they had expected. The average compensation gap (the difference between the expected compensation and the actual compensation received for land) is 20 acres per study household. This has resulted in dissatisfaction among the indigenous communities. Greater participation of indigenous communities in the compensation process is needed to reduce the compensation gap. Indigenous communities’ rights and freedom to participate in the compensation process is important and should be an integral part of compensation policy for large development projects.

Pages: 64-72


Research Article

Rehabilitating rivers and enhancing ecosystem services in a water-scarcity context: the Yarqon River

Xavier Garcia and David Pargament
Yarqon River Authority, Tel Aviv, Israel

Contact: Xavier Garcia | Email: xavier.garciaacosta@udg.edu


After the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the increase in urban and agricultural water demand and the increased flow of poorly treated sewage had a severe impact in one of the most ecologically important rivers in Israel, the Yarqon. The attempt to reverse this situation began with the creation of the Yarqon River Authority in 1988. In the last 20 years, the authority has implemented or collaborated in several projects that have significantly contributed to enhancing the provision of ecological services. This article aims to analyze the case of the pollution and subsequent rehabilitation of aquatic ecosystem services in the Israeli water-scarcity context.

Pages: 73-87


Research Article

Shifting to hydrological/hydrographic boundaries: a comparative assessment of national policy implementation in the Zerafshan and Ferghana Valleys

Kai Wegerich
International Water Management Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Contact: Kai Wegerich | Email: k.wegerich@cgiar.org


In the literature on the implementation of national policies there is an assumption that these get implemented uniformly within one country. Here, with a focus on the implementation of national policy on shifting from administrative to hydrological/hydrographic principles of water management in the Zerafshan Valley and the Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan, this assumption is questioned. The case study demonstrates that national policies are resisted by lower-level bureaucrats, leading to diverse, even contradictory, outcomes of the same policy. The vested interests of a multiplicity of bureaucracies, the power of individual bureaucrats, and the discretional power given to bureaucracies in interpreting national policy are responsible for the different outcomes. The article calls for more comparative assessments across different regions for a better understanding of policy implementation.

Pages: 88-105

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2014.914892 (Open Access)

Research Article

Systems methodology for resolving water conflicts: the Zhanghe River water allocation dispute in China

Yu Chuaa,b,c, Keith W. Hipelc,d, Liping Fangc,e and Huimin Wanga,b
aState Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing, China; bInstitute of Management Science, Hohai University, Nanjing, China; cDepartment of Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada; dCentre for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo, ON, Canada; eDepartment of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada

Contact: Liping Fang | Email: lfang@ryerson.ca


This article uses the Graph Model for Conflict Resolution methodology to systematically model and analyze strategic aspects of an existing conflict over the distribution and utilization of water in the Zhanghe River basin in China. This formal systems investigation reveals that a win/win resolution occurs when the downstream provinces of Henan and Hebei agree to cooperate to purchase water at a proper price from the upstream province of Shanxi. This resolution is possible with upgraded infrastructure and with facilitation by the Zhanghe River Upstream Management Bureau. Moreover, an integrated water management system for the entire watershed is recommended.

Pages: 116-119


Research Article

An assessment of the effects of Africa’s water crisis on food security and management

Hany Besadaa and Karolina Wernerb
aCentre on Governance, University of Ottawa, Canada, and Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada; bIndependent researcher, Waterloo, Canada

Contact: Hany Besada | Email: hbesada@uottawa.ca


Food security remains one of the most pressing concerns of this century. This article explores the often overlooked role of water scarcity in food security. This is particularly important within the African context, because most states on the continent rely heavily on agriculture. The article therefore focuses on Africa, discussing triggers and practices related to water usage currently in place, as well as their impact on development. The authors offer various recommendations on how to improve and streamline policies to encourage efficient water use.

Pages: 120-133

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2014.905124 (Free Access)

Research Article

Informal water markets and willingness to pay for water: a case study of the urban poor in Chennai City, India

L. Venkatachalam
Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, India

Contact: L. Venkatachalam | Email: venkatmids@gmail.com


The present study analyzes the role of informal markets in fulfilling the water requirements of poorer households in Chennai City, India. The results of a survey reveal that a significant number of poor people purchase water from informal markets and that they incur a sizeable expenditure on water purchases; some of these households are also willing to pay additional amounts for improved water supply from public sources. The results suggest that improvements in public water supply would significantly increase the welfare of the poor. The informal markets need to be regulated and monitored so that they can serve the households in a better way.

Pages: 134-145

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2014.920680 (Free Access)

Book Review

The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus: Lessons from India for Development » 

Conference Report

‘Comparing Water Governance in China and India: Challenges and Policy Options’ »