Federal Rivers
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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.
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Chapter 5: Managing water in a federal state: the Canadian experience

Managing Water in Multi-Layered Political Systems

J. Owen Saunders


The governance of water resources in the Canadian federation reflects an approach to natural resources management under which the national government largely defers to the provinces as the primary resource managers. This chapter, first, explores the constitutional and political roots of provincial supremacy in water resources management; second, illustrates through two examples how this supremacy may lead to poor policy outcomes for the management of shared water basins; and finally, offers some suggestions as to how Canadaís decentralized approach to federalism can be reconciled with the need to reflect national interests in interjurisdictional water management.

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