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Liquid Relations

Liquid Relations: Contested Water Rights and Legal Complexity

Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Liquid Relations
    Book Description:

    Water management plays an increasingly critical role in national and international policy agendas. Growing scarcity, overuse, and pollution, combined with burgeoning demand, have made socio-political and economic conflicts almost unavoidable. Proposals to address water shortages are usually based on two key assumptions: (1) water is a commodity that can be bought and sold and (2) "states," or other centralized entities, should control access to water.Liquid Relationscriticizes these assumptions from a socio-legal perspective. Eleven case studies examine laws, distribution, and irrigation in regions around the world, including the United States, Nepal, Indonesia, Chile, Ecuador, India, and South Africa. In each case, problems are shown to be both ecological and human-made. The essays also consider the ways that gender, ethnicity, and class differences influence water rights and control.In the concluding chapter, the editors draw on the essays' findings to offer an alternative approach to water rights and water governance issues. By showing how issues like water scarcity and competition are embedded in specific resource use and management histories, this volume highlights the need for analyses and solutions that are context-specific rather than universal.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-3784-9
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. 1 Legal Complexity in the Analysis of Water Rights and Water Resources Management
    (pp. 1-20)

    Since the 1990s, water problems have been high on national and international policy agendas. Climate change, population growth, urbanization, industrialization, and intensification of agriculture are putting increasing pressures on the resource (see Gleick et al. 2002; Gupta 2004; Petrella 1999). Growing scarcity, overexploitation, and pollution coincide with an ever-increasing demand, leading to competition for resource control between people, sectors, and countries. Unavoidably, these trends have generated sociopolitical tensions and conflicts between users at various levels. They also prompt the call for new approaches to water governance and management that are adapted to the changing use conditions of the resource in...

  6. 2 Prescribing Gender Equity? The Case of the Tukucha Nala Irrigation System, Central Nepal
    (pp. 21-43)

    This chapter discusses the potential of law to contribute to progressive social change in water management by looking at legal attempts to improve the gender balance in water users’ associations (WUAs) in Nepal. The gap between women’s responsibilities in irrigation and their voice in local irrigation management organizations is well documented, in Nepal as well as elsewhere. Existence of this gap is often seen as an indicator of gender inequity, reflecting wider power imbalances between men and women. In Nepal, the need for bridging this gap has been realized in the last decades on grounds of efficiency, equity, and sustainability....

  7. 3 Defending Indigenous Water Rights with the Laws of a Dominant Culture: The Case of the United States
    (pp. 44-65)

    The United States is one of the few nations of the world to provide distinctive and apparently robust legal recognition to the water rights of its indigenous peoples. On rivers in the arid, western United States where most ethnic groups reside, indigenous peoples have rights to water that are superior to those of their nonindigenous neighbors. If dominant societies do not extend legal dignity to the water rights of indigenous peoples, this can impede or doom their struggle to hold and use their territories. The integrity of these territories is essential to indigenous cultures and livelihood strategies. Yet the protection...

  8. 4 In the Shadow of Uniformity: Balinese Irrigation Management in a Public Works Irrigation System in Luwu, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
    (pp. 66-96)

    Technocratic approaches to irrigation development and management have gradually given way to participatory but still largely instrumental approaches, with a focus on how water users should perform local irrigation management tasks and functions. Thus, joint management is often characterized by devolution of day-to-day managerial tasks and responsibilities to local water users’ associations (WUAs) of the tertiary units (TUs) in irrigation systems. In the same way, water rights are often paid attention to in an instrumental manner on the basis of preconceived assumptions about the efficiency of exploitation and management under specific property regimes (F. von Benda-Beckmann et al. 1996; Spiertz...

  9. 5 Anomalous Water Rights and the Politics of Normalization: Collective Water Control and Privatization Policies in the Andean Region
    (pp. 97-123)

    Current thinking about water rights in the Andes, as in many other regions of the world, is intimately tied up with the discussion of privatization. For the sake of increasing water use efficiency and productivity, and strongly justified by the proclamation of a lurking water crisis, reforms are proposed or being implemented that promote the transferability and marketability of water, allowing it to be used where its marginal returns are highest. The need for clearly defined and enforceable water rights is recognized primarily because they are a condition for the success of privatization efforts. Water rights define the rules for...

  10. 6 Complexities of Water Governance: Rise and Fall of Groundwater for Urban Use
    (pp. 124-143)

    Kathmandu, the administrative, economic, and cultural capital of Nepal, is undergoing rapid and radical demographic, social, and economic changes that directly impinge on water service demands and the regulation and planning of water resources. The current population of Kathmandu Valley is estimated to be approximately 1,200,000.¹ The population density in Kathmandu ranges from an average of nine persons per square kilometer to 683 persons or even higher concentrations in the core urban area (the area within the surrounding Ring Road).² Outside the core area, the density of population is relatively low. The area with the highest concentration of people is...

  11. 7 Special Law: Recognition and Denial of Diversity in Andean Water Control
    (pp. 144-171)

    In the Andean region, norms and practices of peasant and indigenous communities play a key role in local water management. In irrigation, for example, users’ groups and organizations have developed—sometimes over centuries—irrigation management practices that incorporate elements from Andean, colonial, and postcolonial water traditions, and contemporary norms and technologies. Both older irrigation systems and new ones, whether “communal,” “state-owned,” or “private,” feature their own specific practices and norms. Therefore, each irrigation system operates by a different set of rules of play.

    At the same time, despite the great diversity of particular sociolegal repertoires, local management does not operate...

  12. 8 A Win-Some Lose-All Game: Social Differentiation and Politics of Groundwater Markets in North Gujarat
    (pp. 172-194)

    Agriculture in India has gone through enormous changes since the Green Revolution. Based on external inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, high-yielding variety seeds (HYVs) and irrigation, Green Revolution technology became popular in many states of India. Large surface irrigation schemes were initiated in the sixties, and subsidy for HYVs and fertilizers was provided with the aim of making India self-sufficient in food production. However, the new technology also demanded more control over irrigation, which canal systems were unable to provide. Well irrigation was seen as an alternative to the bureaucratically controlled canal systems and this perception led to increased groundwater...

  13. 9 Redressing Racial Inequities through Water Law in South Africa: Interaction and Contest among Legal Frameworks
    (pp. 195-214)

    In the apartheid era prior to 1991, South Africa was a country torn by formal racial divisions. Under a comprehensive official policy of racial segregation, and in an attempt to create a society of whites only, the government of South Africa broke off its association with the British Commonwealth and created a white republic in 1961.¹ Simultaneously, in an attempt to confront the reality of a black majority within its borders, the republican government instituted a program of “separate development” through which it carved out a number of black states inside its own boundaries.

    Comprising no more than 13.5 percent...

  14. 10 Routes to Water Rights
    (pp. 215-236)

    As water becomes increasingly contested, water users are increasingly affected by the actions of strangers with whom they have few other links besides sharing the use of a common resource. The success of attempts to resolve conflicts and coordinate collective action in water use depends, among other things, on the ability to find efficient solutions to problems of collective action. If reaching agreement is time-consuming and difficult, and agreements difficult or impossible to enforce, then water allocation is unlikely to be effective, or to occur only through the unilateral imposition of state authority rather than arising from agreement among users....

  15. 11 Analyzing Water Rights, Multiple Uses, and Intersectoral Water Transfers
    (pp. 237-253)

    Demand for water continues to grow worldwide. At the same time, developed water resources are almost fully utilized in many places, and the financial, environmental, and political costs of developing new water control systems are rising. The combination of rising demand and limited supplies is creating scarcity and competition between water uses, as well as users. In this resulting competition, irrigation, the largest sector of water use in most countries, is often at a disadvantage because the other sectors have more economic or political power. There is increasing pressure to transfer existing water supplies from agriculture to other water uses,...

  16. 12 Water Rights and Legal Pluralism: Beyond Analysis and Recognition
    (pp. 254-268)

    One important reason to embark upon the effort to compile this book was to bridge the felt gap between the analysis of water rights and the assumptions and practices of intervention. On the one hand, academic anthropologists criticize water professionals for overly simplifying the water world and for not recognizing its socioeconomic, cultural, and legal diversity. On the other, more intervention-oriented water professionals find detailed analyses of the existence of plural legal situations of little direct use for designing water management systems and policies. All chapters in this book combine, to a greater or lesser extent, academic curiosity with a...

    (pp. 269-292)
    (pp. 293-298)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 299-314)