This article is about water resource policy and the structure of its institutions. This has influence on the policy making processes but this article is restricted to a synchronic picuture of these structures and does not examine the dynamic diachronic process of decision making.[1]

Water resource management is the implementation of policy and is usually carried out over different, more subdivided political, spatial, and geographical domains than policy. It includes policy for "regions, catchments, shared or transboundary water resources, and inter-basin transfers,Policy is a cause of management practices, but best management practices are identified, evaluated, modified and disseminated by policy making bodies".[2] These policy issues may be subdivided by various means, but broadly concern either the identification, annexation, procurement, maintenance, protection, preservation, expansion of water supply and protection of its quantitative degradation through evaporative loss, water main breakage, waste or constraining qualitative degradation through direct pollution. "Supply isn't just about water production, it is also about distribution infrastructure"[3]Technical issues of the world's aging water infrastructure also includes origination and dissemination of best practices to deal with metering, control systems, and pressure management.Much of policy discussion involves management of competing interests in supply and polluting uses by and between different user classes, with some commentators projecting resource wars as demand exceeds supply throughout most of the globe.[4] User classes of interest to policy making institutions and policy advocates include domestic, industrial, mining and agricultural facilities.[5]

Increasing interest in analysis of policy systems[edit | edit source]

Water resource policy issues are receiving increasing attention.[6]It is widely believed that water policy is entering a period of more or less permanent crisis,[7] at least in some regions, and the chilling spectre of worldwide crisis at some point in the future.[8]Given the complexity of international law, national sovereignty and forecasted water shortages, attention is increasingly focused on various approaches to this complex subject matter.[9] Organizations such as the Global Water Policy Project have sprung up to promote awareness and prod government and NGO's into heightened awareness of the problems.[10] Various jurisdictions at all levels from international down to small water districts regulate water resources to protect drinkability and agricultural uses from water pollution. Advanced industrial countries typically develope stringent rules which are disseminated worldwide through aid agencies and international agencies such as various departments of the United Nations. Within the developed nations, some localities have more highly developed water regulatory policy analysis, making and implementation bodies in place, due either to general social and ideological concerns or familiarity with specific, often problematic water quality problems.

Water resource management in higher education[edit | edit source]

Oregon State University offers a degree program in Water Resources Policy and Management (WRPM)[11]

Global water resource policy objectives (overview)[edit | edit source]

Planning is viewed as a means to

  • to address the raw need for water quantitatively
  • to protect water supply quantity
  • to regulate conflicts about water access and quality particularly to prevent possible political or military conflict.[12][13]
  • to protect vulnerable populations from threats such as flooding and mosquito vector activity.
  • navigable water policy
  • use of waters as dwelling space (houseboats)
  • conversion of water resources into energy (hydro-electric)
  • extraction of food from water resources (fishing, aquafarming)
  • extraction of minerals including petroleum

Institutional participants[edit | edit source]

United Nations water programs[edit | edit source]

A few high points in multilateral initiatives are as follows:

The 1977 Mar del Plata United Nations Conference on Water was the first intergovernmental water conference, leading to the 1980 Declaration of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade by the UN General Assembly.[14]

The United Nations Environmental Program is a key institution housing water resource policy making agencies and disseminating best practices worldwide. This activity occurs at global, regional and national levels. This role has been enhanced by landmark policy directives:

  • UN General Assembly Resolution 3436 (XXX) Agenda 21
  • 1997 Nairobi Declaration on the Role and Mandate of UNEP and
  • 2000 Malmö Ministerial Declaration adopted at the First Global Ministerial Environment Forum.[15]
  • At Earth Summit 2002 governments established targets for 2015 to improve access to safe drinking water.[16]
  • In 2007 the World Bank developed a report series on Environment and Development[17] which thereafter (2009) reported on Environmental Flows in Water Resources Policies, Plans, and Projects[18]

Bilateral[edit | edit source]

Treaties between nations may enumerate rights and responsibilities. For instance, a treaty between Poland and Germany, "An Agreement to establish cooperation on water resources management" provides:

  • supply of drinking water of good quality,
  • protection of surface water,
  • supply of water to agriculture,
  • fight against water pollution.[19]

The Permanent Court of International Justice adjudicates disputes between nations including water rights litigation.[20]

UN-consultative NGO policy advocacy organizations[edit | edit source]

Non governmental organizations may have consultative status at the UN. One such NGO is the World Water Council, an "international multi-stakeholder platform" established in 1996 to act "at all levels, including the highest decision-making level...[in] protection, development, planning, management and use of water in all its dimensions...for the benefit of all life on earth." It was an outgrowth of the 1992 at the UN's International Conference on Environment and Development in Dublin and at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit. The Council itself is mow based in the City of Marseilles.[14] Their website explains its' multi-stakeholder basis as due to the fact that "authority for managing the world's fresh water resources is fragmented amongst the world's nations, hundreds of thousands of local governments, and countless non-governmental and private organizations, as well as a large number of international bodies." Subsequently, in 1994, the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) organized a special session on the topic in its Eighth World Water Congress held in Cairo in November 1994, leading to creation of the World Water Council.[21]

Independent multi-lateral NGO[edit | edit source]

Global Water Partnership[edit | edit source]

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) is a network of Country and Regional Water Partnerships with a Secretariat in Stockholm. It was established "to support countries in the sustainable management and development of their water resources" but in practice is helping to formulate national policies to direct that management.Their mandate includes poverty reduction consistent with Millennium Development Goals.[22]

Business water resource policy initiatives[edit | edit source]

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has engaged stakeholders in a process it refers to as in its H2OScenarios engaged in a scenario building. In June 2011 in Geneva, the Future of Water Virtual Conference, "hosted by" Dow Chemical, exchanged view on sustainable water issues. Notable presented included Peter Bell of Harvard's Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations and David Abraham, CEO of ClearWater Initiative. Other sponsorships included Scientific American and Fast Company (magazine)|Fast Company, a media firm. Issues raised included

  • water infrastructure monitoring,[23] global water security, potential resource wars,[24] interaction between water, energy, food and economic activity, the "true value" of "distribution portions of available water" and a putative "investment gap" in water infrastructure.[6][25] It was asserted that climate change will impact scarcity of water but the water security presentation emphasized that a combined effect with population growth "could be devastating".[26] Identified corporate water related risks include physical supply, regulatory and product reputation.[27]

This forum indicated policy concerns with

  • trade barriers
  • price supports
  • other subsidies
    • treatement of water as a free good creates underpricing of 98% of water[28]
  • need to intensify debate
  • need to harmonize public/private sectors[29]

Structural constraints on policy makers[edit | edit source]

Operational water management implements policy. These policies are implemented by organizational entities created by government exercise of the police power of the state. However, all such entities are subject to constraints upon their autonomy.[30] These constraints originate in the legitimacy demands of their constituents and also the conflicting constraints originating from global and regional international entities, national government and state or provincial policy instruments such as treaties, laws, regulations and contracts.[31] These factors affect ownership and control of water resources all the way down to the level of municipalities and special districts for flood control and allocation of water rights in accordance with local water law. In many localities, structural limitations on policy making and resulting implementation snarls lead to failed policies.[32]

Jurisdictional limitations[edit | edit source]

Subject matter and geographic jurisdiction are distinguishable.[33] Jurisdiction is limited by geographic political boundaries as well the limits imposed by enabling legislation. In some cases, legislation targets specific types of land uses (wilderness,agricultural,urban-residential, urban-commercial, etc.) A second level of jurisdictional limitation exists in terms of the subject matter which any given agency is authorized to control such as flood control, water supply and sanitation, etc. This creates a situation where regulatory authority is fragmented and thus policy analysis at a higher level is in demand in order to coordinate and identify gaps.

Policy consistency requirements[edit | edit source]

  • Consistency with national regulations
  • Consistency with the interests of other lawful authorized users who engage in permitted or unpermitted practices which may utilize excessive water or degrade water quality.

Overlapping jurisdictions and conflict of laws[edit | edit source]

In typically water challenged province in a developed nation, the number of water regulatory agencies at the provincial level alone is substantial, not counting county, city and special districts:

  • Environmental Protection Agency (State/EPA)

Jurisidictional problems[edit | edit source]

Overlapping jurisdictions may pass legislation which creates conflict of laws. For interest, recent changes in California law intended to reduce air quality problems from shipping has been interfered with by Federal legal changes intended to reduce the cost of shipping.[34]

Example of various overlapping water agencies[edit | edit source]

  • Coastal Commission
  • Coastal Conservancy
  • Department of Fish & Game
  • Department of Water Resources
  • Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES)
  • Ocean and Coastal Environmental Access Network (OCEAN)
  • Resources Agency Wetlands Information System
  • State Water Resources Control Board[35][36][37]
  • Public Health Departments conduct water sampling for bacterial and viral contaminants
  • Water districts control service to residential, commercial, industrial and institutional water consumers

NGO to government difficulties[edit | edit source]

Government secrecy is an ongoing problem as bureacratic ineptitude and illicit, privately profitable arrangements are shielded from public view. In some nations there are provisions for press and other NGO access but costly lawsuits may be required to exercise these rights.

Typical information access issue[edit | edit source]

As reported on the non partisan Civil Society Institute website, a 2005 Congressional study on water supply impact of American production is apparently being suppressed as it has become the target of a Freedom of Information Action (FOIA) litigation filed by the Civil Society Institute (CSI) vs the Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.[38]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The corresponding article on this topic at general-use websites such as wikipedia may address a broader scope.
  3. TakaDu p. 9
  4. Halcrow p. 27 & etc
  6. 6.0 6.1
  12. In nations of all classes, conflict between urban and agricultural uses are expected to intensify, creating policy making challenges of increasing complexity.
  13. Dehydrating Conflict by Sandra L. Postel and Aaron T. Wolf, September 18, 2001. From Global Policy Forum
  14. 14.0 14.1
  16. Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report
  17. World Bank|Series on Environment and Development.|
  18. Environmental Flows in Water Resources Policies, Plans, and Projects|World Bank|Series on Environment and Development.
  21. Ibid
  26. Halcrow
  27. Halcrow p 23
  28. Takadu p.2
  29. Halcrow p 28
  30. Poulantzas, Nicos. Political Power and Social Classes. NLB, 1973 (orig. 1968).
  31. ^ Habermas, J. and Derrida, J. "February 15, Or What Binds Europeans Together: A Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, beginning in the Core of Europe" in The Derrida-Habermas Reader ed. Thomassen L. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago Ill. Pp. 270-277. P.302
  32. Collapse of an Industry: Nuclear Power and the Contradictions of U.S. Policy (Cornell Studies in Political Economy) John L. Campbell
  33. Black's Law Dictionary
  34. July 2, 2011
  36. The Water Quality Control Policy for the Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California is published by the California State Water Resources Control Board as guidelines to prevent water quality degradation.
  37. State Water Resources Control Board Water Quality Control Policy for the Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California (1974) State of California
  38. Website of the Civil Society Institute|June 23, 2011|
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Created June 30, 2011 by Geoffery "Geof" Bard
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