Table of Contents

Federal Rivers

Federal Rivers

Managing Water in Multi-Layered Political Systems

Edited by Dustin E. Garrick, George R.M. Anderson, Daniel Connell and Jamie Pittock

This groundbreaking book provides a comparative perspective on water and federalism across multiple countries. Through a collection of case studies, this book explores the water management experiences and lessons learned in ten federal countries and China. The territorial division of power in federations, plus the interconnected politics at the national and regional levels, present a classic governance test for waters shared across multiple political jurisdictions. This is increasingly important as democratic transitions have introduced or invigorated federalism across diverse contexts affecting more than 300 major river basins, including over half of the world’s international rivers.

Chapter 1: Federal rivers: a critical overview of water governance challenges in federal systems

Dustin Garrick, George Anderson, Daniel Connell and Jamie Pittock

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, water, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


Sustainable management of rivers, lakes and aquifers is crucial to the well-being of people and the environment (MEA 2005). Farms, cultures, industries, cities and nations have been established along the banks of major river systems. Demand for freshwater and other riverine commodities has increased with population growth and economic development, while climate change and extreme events disrupt hydrological processes and water supply. As a consequence, the World Economic Forum (2013) has identified water supply shocks among its top societal risks for the past three years running. Effective governance of fresh water is therefore a foundation of sustainable and equitable societies. In this context, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2012) has identified the global water crisis as a crisis of governance and policy fragmentation. Increasingly, water management challenges involve complex interdependencies between sectors, upstream and downstream jurisdictions and stakeholders at the local, state, national and international levels. These interdependencies pose coordination challenges across political borders ñ both within and between countries. Federal countries distribute authority between national and state jurisdictions, which complicates water management tradeoffs within river basins shared by multiple territories. This book examines the experience of nine different federal political systems and China in addressing challenges of river basin and water management.