We present framings of water issues at three administrative levels in Cochabamba, Bolivia to increase insight of how actors’ perspectives facilitate, obstruct or strengthen suggested actions or solutions. Participatory vulnerability assessments were conducted with leaders in one peri-urban community and municipal and regional officials in water-related sectors. Actors framed water problems and potential solutions differently, placing blame most often at other levels of responsibility. While all pointed to the municipality as responsible for solving the most acute water problems, it was acknowledged that the municipality consistently underperforms in its responsibilities. All actors promoted concrete and detailed technical measures as solutions to many problems while governance-related ones such as training and increased cooperation between different levels were only discussed at an abstract level. While fiscal federalism would fit some of the suggested management solutions, issues such as ecosystem protection and flooding with cross-border externalities might require shared yet clearly defined responsibilities between different levels. We suggest that the water war of 2000 and the framings that emerged from it have so strongly impacted the current water management situation that alternative management models and solutions are rarely discussed.

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