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 6: Resilience of river basin governance institutions in the Saskatchewan River Basin of Western Canada

Managing Water in Multi-Layered Political Systems

Ted Horbulyk


River basin governance institutions can be assessed according to their current effectiveness and their resilience to adapt to new challenges and opportunities. In the Canadian case examined here, a multi-government network of agencies addresses their ongoing responsibilities with relatively few significant problems. Careful examination of the larger governance structure raises concern about a lack of resilience in the face of impending challenges. This chapter describes the model of governance that operates within the Saskatchewan River Basin and introduces three water policy challenges. This basin is mainly situated in three Western Canadian provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These provinces share responsibility with the federal government for specific aspects of water management. There are roles and responsibilities for aboriginal populations, regional and municipal governments, watershed management organizations, non-governmental organizations and some role for broader public participation. The hydroclimatic features of the basin are described in the next section, followed by the current water governance model. Then the potential effectiveness and resilience of governance institutions are assessed in relation to three selected water management challenges. The first is year-to-year water allocation, including the regulation of transboundary flows. The second concerns each jurisdictionís response to common risks and variability, such as multiyear droughts. The third challenge concerns water quality and Lake Winnipeg, where nutrient loading is a serious ecological problem.

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