Water Resources Allocation and Agriculture: Transitioning from Open to Regulated Access
The book brings together a range of leading scholars and practitioners to compile an international account of water allocation policies supporting a transition to sustainable water use in regions where agriculture is the dominant water use. In Section 1, the collection canvasses five key cross-cutting issues shaping the challenge of sustainable water allocation policy, such as legal and economic perspectives, the role of politics, the setting of environmental flows, and the importance of indigenous rights. Section 2 presents 13 national, state and transboundary case studies of water allocation policy, covering cases from Europe, the Americas, Central Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific region. These case studies highlight novel and innovative elements of water allocation regimes, which respond to the cross-cutting issues addressed in Section 1, as well as local challenges and social and environmental imperatives. The book provides a comprehensive account of water allocation in a range of international settings and provides a reference point for practitioners and scholars worldwide wishing to draw on the latest advances on how to design and implement sustainable water allocation systems.
ISBN: 9781789062779 (print)
ISBN: 9781789062786 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781789062793 (ePUB)
Chapter 5: Allocations and environmental flows
Eric D. Stein, Michael E. McClain, Ashmita Sengupta, Theodore E. Grantham, Julie K. H. Zimmerman, Sarah M. Yarnell, 2022. "Allocations and environmental flows", Water Resources Allocation and Agriculture: Transitioning from Open to Regulated Access, Josselin Rouillard, Christina Babbitt, Edward Challies, Jean-Daniel Rinaudo
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Over the past 30 years, much has been learned from strategies used around the world to establish and implement environmental flow programs. Approaches vary from highly prescriptive regulatory requirements to largely voluntary programs. These examples have shown that allocating water to the environment does not necessarily constrain human uses and can have benefits for both agriculture and ecosystems. Some efforts attempt to reduce conflict between agriculture and the environment by limiting water allocations spatially, while others attempt to reconcile competing water demands through comprehensive, regional allocation schemes that vary with climate conditions over time. Here we summarize strategies for water allocation planning and implementation that can be used to balance environmental and agricultural water needs. Effective strategies incorporate: a holistic environmental water allocation approach that focuses on protecting overall ecological structure and functions; environmental flow protections at broad spatial and temporal scales; consideration of surface-ground water interactions and the relationships between flow, sediment, temperature, and water quality. From an implementation perspective, approaches that establish a volumetric water budget for the environment based on interannual variation in water availability, integrate across programs in a transparent manner, are broadly inclusive, and incorporate traditional values and perspectives have the highest likelihood of success. Environmental flow strategies that consider technical solutions, establish clear objectives and anticipate how environmental water will be allocated under different water year types, and are sensitive to social issues and concerns will increase certainty in how much water is allocated for agriculture and the environment. Beyond reconciling conflicts between competing demands, emerging technical and institutional approaches to environmental flows can improve resiliency of water management programs to climate change by preventing the over-exploitation of water supplies, enhancing flexibility, and providing a framework for adaptation.