GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS AND COMMUNITY VULNERABILITIES TO CLIMATE-INDUCED WATER STRESS
Authors: Darrell R. Corkal1 and Margot Hurlbert2
Study Site: South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB)
Loctation: Alberta & Saskatchewan, Canada
Land: 168,000 km2 Population: 2.2 million, mostly urban
Agriculture: Field crops (grains); Livestock (pasture)
Ag land: 15.2 million hectares – most is dry-land
Irrigation is practiced on 772,000 hectares (adaptation)
- 5% of basin’s land (77% of Canada’s irrigated land)
- using 90% of basin’s water consumption
The SSRB is vulnerable to repeated drought (climate variability). The
SSRB has experienced 40 droughts in the last 100 years, and
historically has experienced repeated droughts lasting decades.
and Agri-Food Canada – PFRA, [email protected]
University of Regina [email protected]
The Institutional Adaptations to Climate Change project (IACC) is studying the adaptive capacity of rural
communities in Canada and Chile. Exposure to climate and water stress make rural communities vulnerable.
Coping ability depends on adaptive capacity. Adaptive capacities of rural communities depends on local,
regional and national institutional adaptations. In this regard, formal governance institutions play a critical role.
Institutions may help or hinder adaptive capacity.
The methodological framework for this study involves social and physical scientists working together to better understand adaptive capacity to climate and water stress.
Physical scientists investigated exposure to past and present climate scenarios, and are modeling future climate scenarios. Social scientists conducted vulnerability
assessment research with stakeholders. Data was gathered to understand community baseline capacities, vulnerabilities, sensitivities and coping strategies. Data was also
gathered by conducting institutional interviews of formal governance institutions.
Assessment of Governance Institutions
Formal governance institutions establish the rules of engagement and define the structure for coping to climate and water stress. This poster present and overview of the
IACC study’s focus on governance institutions.
Study Site: Elqui River Basin (ERB)
Location: Coquimbo Region, Chile
Land: 9,800 km2 Population: 365,000 (mostly urban)
Agriculture: Vineyards, Avocado, value-added (Pisco brandy)
Ag land: most arable land is irrigated; rocky land is utilized
Irrigation is practiced on valley floor and mountain slopes
- state of the art drip irrigation is used
- water flows by gravity from snowmelt mountain runoff
- irrigation accounts for 84% of the water consumption in Chile
Vulnerable to water scarcity; desertification, climate variability.
General Description of Governance Model
Canadian Governance Model
Chilean Governance Model
Canada is a democratic federation (pop. 33 million), comprised of
10 provinces and 3 territories. Canada’s government is decentralized. Water is not addressed in the Canadian Constitution.
Water management rests with Canadian provinces; the Federal
and local governments have some water management roles. A key
driver of water management in Canada is the “shared jurisdiction”
by many orders of government.
Chile is a democratic republic (pop. 16 million), and divided into 15
regions. The national government is highly centralized and located in
Santiago (pop. 6 million). The 1981 Water Code (revised 2005) is
enshrined in Chile’s Constitution. Water rights are allocated by the State
and have characteristics of property rights. Water rights may be bought,
sold or traded as a marketable commodity (they are not tied to land). A
key driver of water management in Chile is the water market economy.
The SSRB spans two provinces. Alberta Environment and
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority are the key water Ministries
(water rights and allocations). Provincial ministries with water
mandates include health, agriculture, environment (SK) and
others. Local governments deliver drinking water. Nineteen
Federal government departments share some water role, the key
agencies being Environment, Health, Natural Resources,
Fisheries and Oceans, and Agriculture. Other institutions involved
in water include the Prairie Provinces Water Board (interprovincial agreement), the International Joint Commission (USCanada agreement), irrigation districts, watershed advisory
councils and boards, and many non-government organizations.
While only 5% of the SSRB is irrigated, irrigation accounts for over
90% of the water consumption.
The ERB is located in the Coquimbo Region. The key state agencies
with water mandates are: General Directorate of Water (water rights
and water resources), Superintendency of Sanitary Services
(oversees water/wastewater systems, including the private sector),
Hydraulic Works (water infrastructure), Health (disease prevention) ,
National Irrigation Commission (development) and Environment
(currently developing a national inter-ministerial Integrated Watershed
Management Strategy). Chile has a long history of civil society
engagement water (rural committees and water user groups. Private
companies (agri-business) play a key role in water use, holding water
rights for irrigation developments. Private companies deliver
drinking water except in smaller communities (local governments).
Agricultural production in the SSRB is predominantly grains, oilseeds and livestock.
Gardiner Dam(1967): World’s
largest dam by volume; 225 km long
reservoir impounds 9.4 billion m3 (1.4 yrs average flow from the South
Saskatchewan River Multi-use: drinking water for 45% of Saskatchewan,
irrigation, hydroelectricity, recreation, biodiversity. Irrigation potential is not
yet fully developed. Green zones: field crop irrigation (some centre pivot).
Canadian Stakeholders in the rural communities express concern over:
• long-term policy and program gaps to address climate and water stress
• the need to simplify governance (the number of agencies are confusing)
• environmental protection and water quality issues, quantity and climate variability
• concerns for sustainable development and adaptation for economic viability
• inclusiveness of citizen engagement but limited capacity (technical, financial, time)
Chilean Stakeholders in the rural communities express concern over:
• a need to know more about climate and water stress in the regional
• a separation/gap between local water issues and centralized management
• environmental protection and water quality issues, quantity and climate
• equitable access to water and competition for water with industry/business
• a strong desire for citizen engagement and participatory management
Canada’s “shared jurisdictional roles” in water management are sometimes confusing and can be difficult to
manage, creating challenges for regional and local decision-makers. Rural communities desire long-term
planning to address climate variability and water stress. Canada has made positive advances in environmental
protection, but rural communities continue to be concerned about water quality and the environment.
Chile’s “water market” has created a positive economic growth in agriculture and industry. However, rural
people express concern about water equity, and safeguarding the water needs of the small farmer and rural
citizen. The Water Code (2005) was reformed to address issues related to hoarding of water rights, to safeguard
ecological needs, and address equity. Concerns still exist with environmental monitoring, protection and equity
for water access.
While the governance models in Canada and Chile come from different paradigms, future climate-induced water
stresses will require institutional adaptations to address community vulnerabilities. Flexibility, timely decisionmaking, conflict resolution, and clarity of roles of all orders of government are needed. Both countries have made
strides to adopt integrated water resource management approaches. Citizens are seeking proactive roles in
water management and true citizen engagement.
Acknowledgements: $2.43 million funding was provided to the University of Regina for the IACC project by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. This work is a
collaborative effort with the University of La Serena and the Institute of Political Ecology (Chile); and in Canada, with the Universities of Guelph, Saskatchewan, British Columbia,
Athabasca University; the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative, the Canadian Plains Research Center, the Saskatchewan Research Council and
the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, a branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Submitted to the 13th World Water Congress, September, 2008 Montpellier, France
Agricultural production in the ERB is
principally grapes, value-added Pisco
brandy, and avocado on mountain
slopes extending hundreds of meters.