JOBBAGY GAMPEL Esteban Gabriel
How do basin committees deal with water crises? Reflections for adaptive water governance from South America
TRIMBLE, MICAELA; OLIVIER, TOMÁS; ANJOS, LIDIANE A. P.; TADEU, NATALIA DIAS; GIORDANO, GABRIEL; DONNELL, LARA MAC; LAURA, ROSANA; SALVADORES, FRANCO; SANTANA-CHAVES, IGOR MATHEUS; TORRES, PEDRO H. C.; PASCUAL, MIGUEL; JACOBI, PEDRO R.; MAZZEO, NÉSTOR; ZURBRIGGEN, CRISTINA; GARRIDO, LYDIA; JOBBÁGY, ESTEBAN; PAHL-WOSTL, CLAUDIA
ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY
Año: 2022 vol. 27
Adaptive water governance involves collaboration among multiple actors, social learning, and flexibility to deal with shocks and surprises. Crises thus become a useful context to assess how the institutional arrangements contribute to adaptation. However, an important part of the specialized literature has focused on these issues as they occur in highly institutionalized settings in the Global North. This paper, instead, analyzes basin organizations in settings with variable degrees of institutionalization in South America. The objective is to analyze the actions (or lack thereof) conducted or encouraged by basin committees in watersheds of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, in the face of water crises. We analyze three case studies, involving basin committees that faced different water crises (all affecting drinking water supply) at different scales: (1) Chubut River Basin committee and a turbidity crisis in the Lower Valley in 2017 (Chubut, Argentina), (2) Piracicaba-Capivari-Jundiaí (PCJ) River Basins committee and a drought that occurred in 20142015 (São Paulo, Brazil), and (3) Laguna del Cisne Basin commission and a crisis associated with a failure in the water treatment operation in 2019 (Canelones, Uruguay). In each case, we analyze the institutional design of the committee and the actions (or lack thereof) undertaken regarding the crisis, including the perceptions of key stakeholders of those actions. Findings showed that stakeholders tend to act and communicate through fast channels when water crises occur, referring to basin committees only for technical and additional support (Brazil), information sharing (Uruguay), or not convening the committee at all (Argentina). Our cases in South American countries with different contexts provided empirical evidence of the barriers that basin committees face as political institutional frameworks to foster adaptive water governance (e.g., limited stability, centralization, lack of leadership).