Volume 40, Issue 4

July 2024

Research Articles

Principles and legal tools for equitable water resource allocation: prioritization in South Africa

Barbara van Koppena, Patience Mukuyua, Tumai Murombob, Inga Jacobs-Mataa, Jennifer Molwantwac, John Dinic, Tendai Sawunyamad, Barbara Schreinere and Sipho Skosanaf

aSouthern Africa Regional Program, International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka; bSchool of Law, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; cWater Research Commission, Pretoria, South Africa; dResource Planning and Operation, Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency, South Africa; eWater Integrity Network, Berlin, Germany; fDirectorate Water Allocation Reform, Department of Water and Sanitation, Pretoria, South Africa

Contact: Barbara van Koppen | Email: b.vankoppen@cgiar.org


South Africa’s legally binding National Water Resource Strategy specifies a people-oriented prioritization for the equitable allocation of the nation’s public trust of surface and groundwater resources. This article analyses how the Inkomati–Usuthu Catchment Management Agency seeks to operationalize the three highest priorities in the Sabie Sub Catchment: the Basic Human Needs Reserve for domestic and constitutionally based productive water uses; customary water tenure in former homelands prioritized over the upstream commercial forestry and large-scale farming and the downstream Kruger National Park; and priority General Authorizations overcoming administrative injustices of current licensing. These highest priorities imply curtailment of the lowest priority, high-impact economic uses.

Pages: 555–577

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2023.2290522 (Open Access)

State-centric water governance and ineffective coordination: developing a context-sensitive assessment in Iran’s rentier state

Ali Yousefia, Christian Knieperb and Claudia Pahl-Wostlb,c

aDepartment of Rural Development, College of Agriculture, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran; bInstitute of Geography, Osnabrück University, Osnabrück, Germany; cInstitute of Environmental Systems Research, Osnabrück University, Osnabrück, Germany

Contact: Ali Yousefi | Email: ayousefi@iut.ac.ir


Water reforms fail mainly because stubborn contextual constraints are not effectively considered. This study proposes a context sensitive water governance assessment by designing a comparative approach within a case study and making inductive analytic generalizations. The framework is applied empirically to the Zayandeh Rud basin in the rentier state of Iran. The results indicate that the rentier weak state context has led to centralized rent-seeking governance and limited implementation capacity — characteristics of the entire country, not just the water sector. Water issues will, therefore, require context-sensitive, problem-driven analysis beyond addressing water governance challenges.

Pages: 578–603


Water balance and benefit sharing approach to reduce water deficit in an Indian river Basin

Nitin Bassia,b and Vaibhav Chaturvedia

aCouncil on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), New Delhi, India; bFaculty of Geological Sciences, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), Spain

Contact: Nitin Bassi | Email: nitin.bassi@ceew.in


Using Mahanadi basin as a case, the study demonstrates benefit-sharing can improve water allocation among riparian states experiencing water stress. The results show the basin having a yearly average water deficit of 5429 million cubic metres (MCM) under business-as-usual which increases to 6781 MCM under high economic growth for 2011–2050. Even after various water supply augmentation and demand management interventions and climate change-induced increased runoff, the upper riparian state continues to have a water deficit. This can be reduced if the lower riparian state allows the upper one to divert 1500 MCM of additional water annually which will require a strong governance mechanism in place.

Pages: 604–626


A story of hope and frustration: a wastewater-based agricultural frontier in the Algerian Sahara

Sara Bekaddoura,b,c, Tarik Hartania,b, Pierre–Louis Mayauxd and Nassim Ait-Mouhebc

aAgricultural Water Management Laboratory, National Higher School of Agronomy (ENSA Ex INA), Algiers, Algeria; bLaboratory Management and Valorization of Agricultural and Aquatic Ecosystems, Tipaza University Center Morsli Abdallah (CU4201), Algeria; cINRAE, UMR G-eau, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France; dCIRAD, UMR G-eau, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France

Contact: Sara Bekaddour | Email: bekaddour.sara@gmail.com


This study explores how wastewater reshapes the dynamics of agricultural settlement in the Algerian Sahara. It also discusses farmers’ hopes and frustrations around these dynamics. The study was carried out around the Berriane wastewater treatment facility. It is based on interviews with officials and farmers, a review of technical studies and direct field observations. We show how wastewater reuse regenerates traditional practices, such as the use of human waste as fertilizer and raw sewage to irrigate palm groves. We also discuss the problems that arise when the treatment plant is not managed properly, and the political ambivalence of State authorities regarding wastewater reuse.

Pages: 627–640


Managing risks associated with environmental water delivery: a case study of the Goulburn River, Australia

Lubna Meempattaa, J. Angus Webba, Avril C. Hornea, Louise A. Keoghb and Michael J. Stewardsona

aWater, Environment, and Agriculture Program, Department of Infrastructure Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; bMelbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Contact: Lubna Meempatta | Email: lmeempatta@student.unimelb.edu.au


Effective environmental watering programmes improve the ecological conditions of river systems. This involves identifying and managing any significant risks that may hinder programme success. We undertook a qualitative study exploring how environmental water managers perceive and manage these risks while planning and delivering environmental water, using the Goulburn River, south-east Australia, as a case study. We developed a risk table detailing the progression of key risk events and how environmental water managers manage these. The findings highlight that many risk management strategies are tied to different organizations and water users, making it challenging to successfully deliver environmental water.

Pages: 641–667

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2023.2296114 (Open Access)

The role of knowledge in the decision of Granada University students to drink bottled water

Nazaret Ibáñez-Ruedaa, Pablo Moya-Fernándezb, Jorge Guardiolaa,c and Francisco González-Gómeza,d

aDepartment of Applied Economics, University of Granada, Granada, Spain; bDepartment of Quantitative Methods for Economics and Business, University of Granada, Granada, Spain; cInstitute of Peace and Conflicts, University of Granada, Granada, Spain; dInstitute of Water Research, University of Granada, Granada, Spain

Contact: Nazaret Ibáñez-Rueda | Email: nibanez@ugr.es


Bottled water consumption has risen despite its economic and environmental costs. This study assesses the level of knowledge about the impact of bottled water consumption and the extent to which it leads to a reduction in consumption. We analyse a sample of 454 students at the University of Granada, Spain, using descriptive analysis, Spearman’s correlation and ordinary least squares (OLS). Results indicate that students have a low level of knowledge about the amount of water required to produce bottled water, the energy used to produce it and the water source. The knowledge of the last two issues is negatively associated with bottled water consumption.

Pages: 668–685


Small-scale desalination and atmospheric water provisioning systems in water-scarce vulnerable communities: status and perspectives

Guilherme Baggioa,b, Jan Adamowskib,c, Victor James Hyded and Manzoor Qadirb,e

aDepartment of Physical and Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; bUnited Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Hamilton, ON, Canada; cDepartment of Bioresource Engineering, McGill University, Quebec, QC, Canada; dSchool of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; eSchool of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Contact: Manzoor Qadir | Email: Manzoor.Qadir@unu.edu


Small-scale desalination and atmospheric water provisioning systems can be vital for supplying drinking water in water-scarce areas. However, their potential to support vulnerable communities in such regions has not been fully assessed. Through an in-depth comprehensive review of 111 peer-reviewed publications from 1992 to 2023 and commercial technologies, this study shows significant knowledge gaps on implementing those systems in water-scarce vulnerable communities. To address knowledge gaps, research and implementation should align with local socio-economic, institutional and cultural contexts involving supportive policies, funding mechanisms, risk analysis, human resources, participatory approaches and consideration of community needs.

Pages: 686–717



‘Limited sovereignty’ or ‘community of interests’? A review of the Indus Water Kishenganga Awards

Yangfan Wu

Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (SAR), China

Contact: Yangfan Wu | Email: fancywu@link.cuhk.edu.hk


To demonstrate the applicability of ‘limited sovereignty’ and ‘community of interests’, I look into their essential differences, connections and relations to the principle of no harm and prevention, and further present the requirements of these theories and their interactions through the Indus Water Kishenganga case, concluding that the award is an impaired ‘community of interests’. Suggestions are given that courts should make a decision based on the situations of the states involved, the requirements of the treaty, and the principles of international law to achieve a balance of interest and joint development in watercourse management.

Pages: 718–722