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Whisky is for drinking; Water is for fighting over : a critical investigation of the decision to build the Broken Hill Pipeline

Carr, Owen David LU (2018) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20181
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Water is a necessity for human survival, and a lack of sufficient clean water can have severe negative impacts on human health, economic activity, food security and societal relations. Increasing demand on water resources around the globe often leads to conflicts between different water users who compete for available supplies. The Murray Darling Basin (MDB) in Australia is an area that faces many complex challenges relating to water management. The basin is located in the driest inhabited continent in the world, spans five separate states with diverse laws on water ownership, and supports multiple competing water users. Hence water governance in the basin is a contested issue that has caused many conflicts. Governance within the basin is... (More)
Water is a necessity for human survival, and a lack of sufficient clean water can have severe negative impacts on human health, economic activity, food security and societal relations. Increasing demand on water resources around the globe often leads to conflicts between different water users who compete for available supplies. The Murray Darling Basin (MDB) in Australia is an area that faces many complex challenges relating to water management. The basin is located in the driest inhabited continent in the world, spans five separate states with diverse laws on water ownership, and supports multiple competing water users. Hence water governance in the basin is a contested issue that has caused many conflicts. Governance within the basin is guided by an overarching governing agency called the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), which is meant to coordinate the multiple actors, however in reality governance is a complicated layered system that often sees conflicts between competing groups. This thesis investigates a case study of one current conflict (the Broken Hill pipeline) to identify causes of the conflict and potential interventions for future sustainable water governance in the basin. The thesis draws on political ecology and the hydrosocial cycle to argue that water is shaped by a complex mix of social, political, economic and historical factors that need to be considered together. A qualitative approach is taken including document analysis of official planning and decision-making publications, combined with local stakeholder interviews. Major findings include, firstly, the planning and decision-making process only partially followed governance principles held by the MDBA. Secondly, complaints of local stakeholders highlighted multiple issues, of which only half would have been fully addressed if the all governance principles were followed. Complaints that are not addressed by current governance guidelines, and should be the focus for future sustainable pathways, were driven by issues of 1) a lack of recognition of different ‘frames’ of water; 2) no consideration of uneven power relations; 3) a lack of trust in the legitimacy of the current governance system. Thirdly, factors that were used to motivate the pipeline decision could be seen as drawing attention away from underlying drivers of water problems, favouring a quick-fix technical solution. Conclusions suggest that a more polycentric form of governance that facilitates co-management and social learning would help address many of the issues that were identified and could help facilitate a more sustainable pathway for future governance of the MDB. (Less)
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author
Carr, Owen David LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20181
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
hydrosocial cycle, MDBA, water governance, conflict, socio-ecological systems, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2018:025
language
English
id
8947469
date added to LUP
2018-06-10 13:46:18
date last changed
2018-06-10 13:46:18
@misc{8947469,
  abstract     = {Water is a necessity for human survival, and a lack of sufficient clean water can have severe negative impacts on human health, economic activity, food security and societal relations. Increasing demand on water resources around the globe often leads to conflicts between different water users who compete for available supplies. The Murray Darling Basin (MDB) in Australia is an area that faces many complex challenges relating to water management. The basin is located in the driest inhabited continent in the world, spans five separate states with diverse laws on water ownership, and supports multiple competing water users. Hence water governance in the basin is a contested issue that has caused many conflicts. Governance within the basin is guided by an overarching governing agency called the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), which is meant to coordinate the multiple actors, however in reality governance is a complicated layered system that often sees conflicts between competing groups. This thesis investigates a case study of one current conflict (the Broken Hill pipeline) to identify causes of the conflict and potential interventions for future sustainable water governance in the basin. The thesis draws on political ecology and the hydrosocial cycle to argue that water is shaped by a complex mix of social, political, economic and historical factors that need to be considered together. A qualitative approach is taken including document analysis of official planning and decision-making publications, combined with local stakeholder interviews. Major findings include, firstly, the planning and decision-making process only partially followed governance principles held by the MDBA. Secondly, complaints of local stakeholders highlighted multiple issues, of which only half would have been fully addressed if the all governance principles were followed. Complaints that are not addressed by current governance guidelines, and should be the focus for future sustainable pathways, were driven by issues of 1) a lack of recognition of different ‘frames’ of water; 2) no consideration of uneven power relations; 3) a lack of trust in the legitimacy of the current governance system. Thirdly, factors that were used to motivate the pipeline decision could be seen as drawing attention away from underlying drivers of water problems, favouring a quick-fix technical solution. Conclusions suggest that a more polycentric form of governance that facilitates co-management and social learning would help address many of the issues that were identified and could help facilitate a more sustainable pathway for future governance of the MDB.},
  author       = {Carr, Owen David},
  keyword      = {hydrosocial cycle,MDBA,water governance,conflict,socio-ecological systems,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Whisky is for drinking; Water is for fighting over : a critical investigation of the decision to build the Broken Hill Pipeline},
  year         = {2018},
}