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In Search of Sustainable Water Management

International Lessons for the American West and Beyond

Edited by Douglas S. Kenney

Water issues in the American West share many similarities with those seen elsewhere in the world as population growth exacerbates longstanding problems of inappropriate water use and management. The contributors to this timely volume examine the universal challenge of sustainable water management to improve the use of water resources already developed and find ways to moderate our growing collective thirst.
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Chapter 2: Roles for the Public and Private Sectors in Water Allocation: Lessons from Around the World

Charles W. Howe and Helen Ingram


Charles W. Howe and Helen Ingram With assistance from Don J. Blackmore, Murray–Darling River Basin Commission; Miguel Ricardo Solanes, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; Joachim Blatter, University of Konstantz; and Marcus Moench, Institute for Social and Environmental Transition Among the most salient features of water management regimes are the mechanisms and rules regarding water allocation. In most situations, the institutional mechanisms employed utilize both public-sector and private-sector roles. In this chapter, we review the key issues associated with various approaches. In part 1, the public/private sector issue is described in detail, with an emphasis on the experience in the western United States. In part 2, our focus broadens to consider experiences in other nations, with examples from Australia, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Finally in part 3, this wealth of experience and experimentation is used to identify general lessons, including conclusions and recommendations specific to the western United States. 1. SEEKING THE PUBLIC SECTOR/PRIVATE SECTOR BALANCE Public and Private Responsibilities For most of the world, the water management question is not one of complete centralized public sector planning or complete privatization of the resource and its distribution but the proper assignment of responsibilities to each sector within an adequate social oversight framework. In this context, the public sector must be interpreted broadly to include agencies at state and federal levels, river basin commissions, state courts and engineer offices, 25 26 In search of sustainable water management publicly sanctioned water trading organizations (water banks)...

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