The Ocean Bountiful? De-salination, de-politicisation, and binational water governance on the Colorado River

Authors: Joe Williams*, Durham University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Political Geography, United States
Keywords: water, infrastructure, desalination, binational governance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Poydras, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The emergence of large-scale seawater desalination as an alternative urban water source represents a significant reconfiguration of the hydro-social cycle and the scalar politics of water governance. ‘Binational’ desalination is being proposed as a solution to the insoluble inter-state and inter-national contestations that characterise the governance of the Colorado River. By tracing the technological, discursive and political formations that have coalesced around the desalination ‘solution’, this chapter argues that desalting technologies are being advanced as a spatial and political ‘fix’ that sustains a very particular mode of water management and development without addressing its deep contradictions and historical failures.

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