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Embedded resource accounting with applications to water embedded in energy trade in the western U.S

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Water resource management is becoming increasingly burdened by uncertain and fluctuating conditions resulting from climate change and population growth which place increased demands on already strained resources. Innovative water management schemes are necessary to address the reality of available water

Water resource management is becoming increasingly burdened by uncertain and fluctuating conditions resulting from climate change and population growth which place increased demands on already strained resources. Innovative water management schemes are necessary to address the reality of available water supplies. One such approach is the substitution of trade in virtual water for the use of local water supplies. This study provides a review of existing work in the use of virtual water and water footprint methods. Virtual water trade has been shown to be a successful method for addressing water scarcity and decreasing overall water consumption by shifting high water consumptive processes to wetter regions. These results however assume that all water resource supplies are equivalent regardless of physical location and they do not tie directly to economic markets. In this study we introduce a new mathematical framework, Embedded Resource Accounting (ERA), which is a synthesis of several different analytical methods presently used to quantify and describe human interactions with the economy and the natural environment. We define the specifics of the ERA framework in a generic context for the analysis of embedded resource trade in a way that links directly with the economics of that trade. Acknowledging the cyclical nature of water and the abundance of actual water resources on Earth, this study addresses fresh water availability within a given region. That is to say, the quantities of fresh water supplies annually available at acceptable quality for anthropogenic uses. The results of this research provide useful tools for water resource managers and policy makers to inform decision making on, (1) reallocation of local available fresh water resources, and (2) strategic supplementation of those resources with outside fresh water resources via the import of virtual water.

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Date Created
2013

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Coordination and power in water governance: the case of Prescott Active Management Area

Description

Studies of governance have focused on the interactions among diverse actors while implicitly recognizing the role of power within those relationships. Explicit power analyses of water governance coordination are needed to better understand the conditions for and barriers to sustainability.

Studies of governance have focused on the interactions among diverse actors while implicitly recognizing the role of power within those relationships. Explicit power analyses of water governance coordination are needed to better understand the conditions for and barriers to sustainability. I therefore utilized a novel conceptual framework to analyze vertical and horizontal governance, along with power, to address how governance interactions affect water sustainability in terms of (1) interactions among governance actors across local to state levels; (2) coordination among actors at the local level; and (3) the exercise of power among assorted actors. I adopted a qualitative case study methodology that involved triangulating interview transcripts, policy documents, and other data in the case study area of Prescott, Arizona.

Across governance scales, my analysis found that informational and contentious interactions occur around water management plans, groundwater withdrawal fees, and growth debates due to the stipulations of Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act. Locally, municipalities in different groundwater basins coordinate by pooling resources for water development due to shared growth visions. However, municipalities within the same groundwater basin are divided in their pursuit of the state-mandated goal of safe yield due to discontent arising from differing growth visions, libertarian values of water control, and unequal responsibilities among actors in conserving water or monitoring use. Finally, local and state actors exercise power through litigation, legislation, and political processes to pursue their interests, thereby limiting coordination for water sustainability.

My explicit analysis of power reveals that coordination occurs not just because of water policies but due to interest-based water narratives (growth and libertarian). The emphasis of growth proponents on supply augmentation and libertarian opposition to regulations pose significant barriers to water sustainability. Successful policy-based pursuits of water sustainability will, thus, require an acknowledgment of these management asymmetries and commitments to addressing them.

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Date Created
2017

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Reassembling hydrosocial metabolic relations: a political ecology of water struggles in Chile

Description

This research investigates the dialectical relationships between water and social power. I analyze how the coupled processes of development, water privatization, and climate change have been shaping water struggles in Chile. I focus on how these hydro-struggles are reconfiguring everyday

This research investigates the dialectical relationships between water and social power. I analyze how the coupled processes of development, water privatization, and climate change have been shaping water struggles in Chile. I focus on how these hydro-struggles are reconfiguring everyday practices of water management at the community scale and the ways in which these dynamics may contribute to more democratic and sustainable modes of water governance at both regional and national scales. Using a historical-geographical and multi-sited ethnographical lens, I investigate how different geographical projects (forestry, irrigated agriculture, and hydropower) were deployed in the Biobio and Santiago regions of Chile during the last 200 hundred years. I analyze how since the 1970s, these hydro-modernization projects have been gradually privatized, which in turn has led to environmental degradation and water dispossession affecting peasants and other rural populations. I frame these transformations using the political-ecological notion of hydrosocial assemblages produced by the different stages of the hydro-modernity—Liberal, Keynesian, Socialist, Neoliberal. I detail how these stages have repeatedly reshaped Chilean hydrosocial processes. I unpack the stages through the analysis of forestry, irrigation and hydropower developments in the central and southern regions of Chile, emphasizing how they have produced both uneven socio-spatial development and growing hydrosocial metabolic rifts, particularly during neoliberal hydro-modernity (1981-2015). Hydrosocial metabolic rifts occur when people have been separated or dispossessed from direct access and control of their traditional water resources. I conclude by arguing that there is a need to overcome the current unsustainable market-led approach to water governance. I propose the notion of a 'commons hydro-modernity', which is based on growing environmental and water social movements that are promoting a socio-spatial project to reassemble Chilean hydrosocial metabolic relations in a more democratic and sustainable way.

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2016