Programme  OS5b Governing water towards sustainability  abstract 790

Limits to the groundwater governance in California U.S. and Guanajuato Mexico

Author(s): Gabriela Angeles-Serrano, Boris Marañon
Dr. Boris Marañon, Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas IIE-UNAM

Keyword(s): groundwater governance, conflicts, Guanajuato, California, shared aquifers

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Session: OS5b Governing water towards sustainability
AbstractSince 1980`s, strategies to increase social participation and the

empowerment of the groups involved in water management have been encouraged, mostly in developing countries

but also in those developed. Meanwhile, some academic circles began to disapprove the recent progress in water

policy. One reason is because the new politics provides too much power to some groups (i.e. organized farmers or

municipalities) even when they may misunderstand the scientific and technical limits of the resource and/or have a

reduced vision of the environmental crisis. So, as the capacity of decision of them is increased, they may refuse to

change their practices to access water, even when the more recent information might indicate that a permanent

degradation is still affecting water resources. This last could be more probable when the groundwater is the most

important resource because of the natural laws that govern the differences in their quantity and quality are more

complex of assimilating by the society, that those that govern the surface water. Although a regulatory framework to

use rationally and to maintain shared water sources requires of interdisciplinary and coordinated approaches in order

to achieve enough support and a consensus between different social agents. Then, to reach legitimacy in water

politics will not be sufficient while big asymmetries of power persist in the vulnerable territories. Additionally the

reduction of the responsibilities of the State, as the maximum authority in the position of allocating the water and at

the same time of protecting to people and the environment, it is allowing to the most powerful groups of avoiding

future restrictions and this leaves completely defenseless to the less powerful agents, when they have in fact, much

less possibilities to access water. Consequently with the new policies, conflicts could come up still and the water

governance could be threatened at long or even middle term. Under the previous context, the objective of this article

is to determine to what extension the progress in policies that incorporate new agents is increasing the cost of the

access to more powerless groups in California US and Guanajuato Mexico. The methodology includes 1) a revision

of the advances in social participation that were motivated because of the modifications in water policy during the last

twenty-five years, 2) the identification of the persistence of power groups as one of the main limitations for the

advance through more comprehensive models of participation and 3) with the information of points 1 and 2 the main

gaps in water policy advances will be shown. It is concluded that the power of some agents, could become one of

the main factors responsible of challenging the preservation of a healthy environment and a more equitable allocation

of available resources.

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