Volume 35, Issue 5

September 2019


Water Crisis and Water Wars: Myths and Realities »
Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada

Research Article

Updating the Register of International River Basins of the world

Melissa McCracken and Aaron T. Wolf

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA

Contact: Melissa McCracken | Email: mjmccracken@live.com


The delineation of the world’s international river basins has not been undertaken by any formal body since 1978. Researchers with the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database have attempted to fill this void through the 1999 Register, with online updates and currently with the present study. This current register delineates 310 international river basins, reflecting changes in political boundaries and increased data quality. These basins are shared by 150 countries and disputed areas, cover 47.1% of the Earth’s land surface and include 52% of the world’s population. This paper lists all international river systems, their basin areas, their riparian states and their respective territorial percentages.

Pages: 732–782


State-of-the-Art Review

Institutional arrangements for water governance

Emeline Hassenforder and Sylvain Barone

G-EAU, Irstea, AgroParisTech, Cirad, IRD, Montpellier SupAgro, Univ Montpellier, Montpellier, France

Contact: Emeline Hassenforder | Email: emeline.hassenforder@irstea.fr


Institutional arrangements shape water-related decision making and water policies, and drive behaviours related to water sharing and use. It is therefore crucial that water researchers, policy makers and managers understand institutions. This article reviews and critically assesses the current knowledge of water-related institutional arrangements. It explains how researchers explore institutional structures, emergence and change. It details how institutions are considered as a response to social-environmental issues through design, fit and bricolage. The article concludes with the most promising topics for the future scientific agenda.

Pages: 783–807


Research Article

The social construction and consequences of groundwater modelling: insight from the Mancha Oriental aquifer, Spain

David Sanza, Jeroen Vosb, Femke Rambagsc, Jaime Hoogestegerb, Eduardo Cassiragad and Juan José Gómez-Aldaya

aHydrogeology Group, University of Castilla–La Mancha, Albacete, Spain; bWater Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; cDepartment of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Waikato, New Zealand; dHydraulic and Environmental Engineering Department, Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain

Contact: David Sanz | Email: David.Sanz@uclm.es


Groundwater flow models have been increasingly used to support policy making. A substantial amount of research has been dedicated to improving, validating and calibrating models and including stakeholders in the modelling process. However, little research has been done to analyze how the choices of model makers and steering by policy makers result in models with specific characteristics, which only allow specific modelling outcomes, and how the use of these modelling outcomes leads to specific social, economic and environmental consequences. In this study, we use the social construction of technology framework to explore the development, characteristics and uses of the groundwater model of the Mancha Oriental aquifer in Spain. The specific characteristics and functioning of this model influenced the policy implementation, implying that involving stakeholders in the development and use of models is crucial for improved democratic policy making.

Pages: 808–829


Research Article

Conciliation of competing uses and stakeholder rights to groundwater: an evaluation of Fuencaliente Aquifer (Spain)

Julio Berbela, Alfonso Expósitob and María M. Borrego-Marínc

aDepartment of Agricultural Economics, University of Cordoba, Spain; bDepartment of Economic Analysis of University of Seville, Spain, and Researcher at WEARE, University of Cordoba, Spain; cDepartment of Agricultural Economics and WEARE, University of Cordoba, Spain

Contact: Alfonso Expósito | Email: aexposito@us.es


This article evaluates economic use values of groundwater and examines the trade-offs between agricultural and recreational uses of the Fuencaliente Aquifer in southern Spain. This case study is an example of the relevance of the non-market values of groundwater resources in achieving more sustainable management of groundwater resources, an issue on which there is still scarce evidence in the literature. The revealed preference of stakeholders associated with the current resource allocation (as defined by the agreed aquifer management plan) can be explained by the consideration of option values and economic non-use values (cultural and historical).

Pages: 830–846


Research Article

Understanding the effectiveness of investments in irrigation system modernization: evidence from Madhya Pradesh, India

Ranu Sinhaa, Michael Gilmontb, Robert Hopec and Simon Dadsond

aSchool of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK, and Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development, Somerville College, Oxford, UK; bEnvironmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK; cSmith School of Enterprise and the Environment, School of Geography and the Environment & REACH Programme Director, University of Oxford, UK; dSchool of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK

Contact: Ranu Sinha | Email: Ranu.Sinha@some.ox.ac.uk


Investments in modernizing irrigation infrastructure are key to  enhance water security for agriculture. However, outcomes of investments are insufficiently understood, limiting the future design of interventions. This article applies a fixed effects regression  model to test whether modernization of irrigation systems in  Madhya Pradesh leads to improvements in district-level yields and  protection of yields against sub-basin rainfall variability. Findings  suggest that investments fail to improve yields in districts with  deficient rainfall and fail to buffer crops against monsoon variability,  compared to control districts with no investments.  Interventions should be designed to respond to the complexities  of sub-basin rainfall variability.

Pages: 847–870


Research Article

Cost–benefit analysis of full and partial river restoration: the Kishon River in Israel

Nir Beckera, Asael Greenfeldb and Shiri Zemah Shamirc

aTel Hai College, Upper Galilee, Israel; bSchool of Molecular and Life Science, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia; cSchool of Sustainability, Interdisciplinary Centre, Herzliya, Israel

Contact: Nir Becker | Email: nbecker@telhai.ac.il


Restoration of rivers is important because they provide many ecosystem services. However, full restoration is costly, and with limited resources, the priority of the different elements of a restoration plan needs to be considered. In this article the benefits of separable restoration components were analyzed for the Kishon River in Israel. The proposed restoration plan contained four segments: riverbed cleaning, ecological restoration, accessibility, and sports facilities. We used non-market valuation to estimate benefits and found the full restoration programme to pass the cost–benefit test, but partial restoration to be more efficient. Based on these conclusions, different funding alternatives are discussed.

Pages: 871–890



What can explain groundwater rejuvenation in Gujarat in recent years?

M. Dinesh Kumara and Chris J Perryb

aInstitute for Resource Analysis and Policy, Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA; bConsultant, London, UK

Contact: M. Dinesh Kumar | Email: dinesh@irapindia.org


The groundwater build-up in recent years in Gujarat state of western India, which has been known for aquifer exploitation for many decades, had caught the attention of researchers worldwide. This article analyses the various parameters that can influence groundwater behaviour and argues that the recent water level rise in the region is due to large-scale import of surface water from the Sardar Sarovar project for irrigation along with greater rainfall. The earlier works argued that the improvement in groundwater condition is because of the massive, government-sponsored water harvesting work and the introduction of a policy to restrict power supply for well irrigation.

Pages: 891–906