Volume 40, Issue 1

January 2024

Editorial »

Groundwater: an unseen, overused and unappreciated resource

Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada

Research Article

Projecting conflict risk in transboundary river basins by 2050 following different ambition scenarios

Sophie Pieternel de Bruina,b, Susanne Schmeierc, Rens van Beekd and Marijn Gulpene

aInstitute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; bPBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague, the Netherlands; cWater Governance Department, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands; dDepartment of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands; eWater and Food Research Group, Wageningen Environmental Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Contact: Sophie Pieternel de Bruin | Email: s.p.de.bruin@vu.nl


This study presents three global scenario projections of conflict risk in transboundary river basins by combining scenario projection data on risks identified in the existing literature. Under a businessas-usual scenario, 920 million people are projected to live in very high to high conflict-risk basins by 2050. In the low ambition scenario, this number decreases to 724 million people, while in the high ambition scenario, it decreases to 536 million. Large basins with specifically high conflict risk are the Juba–Shibeli, Lake Turkana, Indus and Irrawaddy. These findings hope to inform water diplomacy, conflict prevention and mitigation support for basins at risk.

Pages: 7–32

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2023.2184650 (Open Access)

Research Article

Waterways transformation and green stormwater infrastructure: enabling governance for Adelaide’s River Torrens Catchment, Australia

Alhassan Ibrahim, Katharine Bartsch and Ehsan Sharifi

School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Contact: Alhassan Ibrahim | Email: Alhassan.ibrahim@adelaide.edu.au


This paper explores the enabling governance conditions for implementing green stormwater infrastructure to transform waterways. Using Australia’s largest integrated stormwater management project in Adelaide’s River Torrens Catchment as a case study, we explore four key governance dimensions and their shifts over time: actors, rules of the game, discourse, and resources and power. Overall, 11 enablers emerged from these dimensions. These include collaboration and coordination, bipartisan support, regulation enforcement, knowledge and beliefs, leadership and expertise, and incremental funding. The paper reflects on the prevalence of these factors and provides recommendations to revitalize polluted waterways and address riverine flood risk.

Pages: 33–56



Water–tourism nexus research in the Mediterranean in the past two decades: a systematic literature review

Sandra Ricarta,b, Rubén Villar-Navascuésa, María Reyesc, Antonio M. Rico-Amorósa,d, María Hernández-Hernándeza,d, Elena Tothe, Cristiana Bragallie, Mattia Nerie and Bas Amelungc

aInteruniversity Institute of Geography, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain; bEnvironmental Intelligence Lab, DEIB, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy; cEnvironmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands; dDepartment of Regional Geographic Analysis and Physical Geography, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain; eDepartment of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Contact: Sandra Ricart | Email: sandra.ricart@ua.es


The water–tourism nexus requires better knowledge, management and governance to address environmental and societal challenges. This review takes stock of the approaches used to address this nexus in the Mediterranean from 2000 to 2020. Bibliometric and exploratory content analysis targeted tourism impacts on water supply, determinants of water consumption, and water-saving mechanisms and technologies. A fundamental insight is that the literature remains rather water centric and technical, paying little attention to behavioural change and stakeholder action. Promising avenues to reinforce sustainable water use include transdisciplinary approaches and integrated tools such as hydrosocial cycle analysis, concept mapping and agent-based modelling.

Pages: 57–83

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2023.2207686 (Open Access)

Research Article

Urban water governance in Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic

Joyce Valdovinos and Karol Yañez Soria

Centro de Investigación en Ciencias de Información Geo-espacial (CentroGeo), Estudios Territoriales y Urbanos, Mexico City, Mexico

Contact: Joyce Valdovinos | Email: joycevaldov@gmail.com


This article discusses whether the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for change in urban water governance in Mexico. We analyse the National Water Commission’s action plan; the private firm Veolia’s use of digital technologies and strategic partnerships in Aguascalientes; and the grassroots activities of the Bajo Tierra Virtual Museum in Queretaro. We argue that the pandemic had no real impact on the first two cases since their initiatives were circumscribed by centralized and market-oriented structures, but constituted an opportunity for Bajo Tierra to gain visibility and recognition to transition towards more adaptive forms of water governance.

Pages: 84–104


Research Article

Assessment of the economic and water leakage efficiency in Chilean urban water utilities

Maria Molinos-Senantea,b,c, Alexandros Maziotisb, Ramon Sala-Garridod and Manuel Mocholi-Arced

aCentro de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada del Riesgo de Desastres (CIGIDEN), Santiago, Chile; bDepartamento de Ingeniería Hidráulica y Ambiental, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; cInstitute of Sustainable Processes, Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain; dDepartment of Mathematics for Economics, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain

Contact: Maria Molinos-Senante | Email: mmolinos@uc.cl


This study evaluates the economic and water leakage efficiency (ELE) of a sample of Chilean water companies using efficiency analysis trees (EAT). The potential savings in operating costs and leakage could reach a level of 58%. This is equivalent to a reduction in operating costs of £391.5 million per year and in water leakage of 20.6 million cubic metres per year. A downward trend in ELE scores was observed from 2007 to 2018. It was revealed that customer density and the source of raw water had a statistically significant impact on the ELE of water companies.

Pages: 105–122


Research Article

Governance of technological innovations in water and energy use in Uzbekistan

Ahmad Hamidova,b, Ulan Kasymovc,d, Naiba Allahverdiyevae,f and Christian Schleyerd,g,h

aResearch Area 3 “Agricultural Landscape Systems”, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany; bDepartment of Irrigation and Melioration, “Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers” National Research University (“TIIAME” NRU), Tashkent, Uzbekistan; cChair of Ecosystem Services, International Institute Zittau, Technische Universität Dresden, Zittau, Germany; dThaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany; eDepartment of Farm Management, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany; fDepartment of Finance and Economic Theory, Azerbaijan State Agricultural University, Ganja, Azerbaijan; gSection of International Agricultural Policy and Environmental Governance, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany; hInstitute of Geography, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

Contact: Ahmad Hamidov | Email: ahmad.hamidov@zalf.de


Increasing water and energy demand in agriculture due to changing climatic conditions and high resource consumption is widespread in Central Asia. Under these constraints, compounded by lack of irrigation water, farmers are opting to use drainage water for crop production, with negative consequences. Focusing on Uzbekistan, we evaluate the governance of farmer adoption of selected technological innovations (i.e., constructed wetlands and biogas) to improve crop productivity while providing water and energy savings. We build upon farmers’ expressed views of the strategic decisions they would take regarding constructed wetlands and biogas plants. We use institutional analysis to identify relevant action situations, highlight potential institutional complementarity between these situations, and indicate promising areas for policy intervention.

Pages: 123–139

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2022.2062706 (Open Access)


Salt for Mexico, fresh water for Arizona? A Mexican perspective on the project of a mega-desalination plant in the Gulf of California

Nicolás Pineda-Pablos

El Colegio de Sonora, Centro de Estudios en Gobierno y Asuntos Públicos, Hermosillo, México

Contact: Nicolás Pineda-Pablos | Email: npineda@colson.edu.mx


This viewpoint contends that the Arizona project, aimed at constructing a mega-desalination plant in the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez), in Mexico, with the intention of exporting desalinated water to Arizona, poses an imminent threat to the environment. It points out that this project lacks a necessary environmental impact statement and has not received approval from Mexican authorities. Additionally, there appears to be no sufficient provision for compensating for the potential harm to natural resources, and the approval by the Mexican authorities remains unlikely.

Pages: 140–144