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 10: Between a rock and a hard place: redefining water security under decentralization in Spain

Managing Water in Multi-Layered Political Systems

Elena López-Gunn and Lucia De Stefano


Spain is recognized worldwide for a long tradition and history of water management. The country is nestled in the Mediterranean basin, a cradle of civilization and an area famous for its warm but dry climate. In this geographic location, the need to guarantee water security due to natural water scarcity has triggered innovation throughout history, both in institutional terms and through the development of increasingly sophisticated (and expensive) water infrastructure. This chapter however is not focused on the history of addressing past challenges, but rather on the way the ongoing decentralization process in Spain is interacting with the institutional capacity to define water security. This means addressing not just the climate variability inherent to the Mediterranean climate but also climate change impacts. In order to do so, the chapter focuses on two aspects: how water security is defined and pursued over time across different scales; and how an ongoing decentralization process and the Europeanization of water management (after the approval of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) in 2000) is reshaping national water policy paradigms.

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