Adaptive Water Quality Governance in California's Urban-Agricultural Interface

Authors: Ann Drevno*,
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Political Geography
Keywords: Water Law
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Studio 10, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In California’s urban-agricultural interface, tensions over water quality have motivated cities and agencies that regulate agricultural discharges to collaboratively prepare legal adaptation strategies aimed at the intermingling of urban and agricultural pollution. Scholarship on the production of uneven waterscapes highlights the important role water plays in co-producing power relations (Loftus, 2009; Swyngedouw, 2004). Studies focusing on power and water show that the transformation, and often degradation, of natural resources are the result of historic unequal distribution of power, capitalistic structures, and economic growth (Peet, Robins, and Watts, 2011); and that this process is typically mutually constitutive: The transformation of natural systems and technology can produce the same unequal social structures and legal relationships that originally altered them—perpetuating a skewed and destructive pattern (Harvey, 1996; Swyngedouw, 1996; Loftus, and Lumsden, 2008). Water is especially prone to conflicts over use, transformation and flow, emphasizing how power is distributed in a society (Swyngedouw, 2009). This view offers an alternative discourse to determinism, one that explores the mutual shaping of socio-environmental and legal systems. These literatures and frameworks are especially useful in addressing the subject of this paper: (1) how power relations have played an important role in the split trajectories of different water management laws, as well as (2) the uneven outcomes of varying socio-environmental systems between and within urban and agricultural sectors. This research uses historical and mixed scientific methods to investigate issues of governance, equity, and power relating to California's water pollution.

AAG Session: (Re)examining Law and Changing Environmental Understanding

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