The purpose of this paper is to describe the history of water governance in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and the challenges now facing the region as a consequence of rapid growth and global warming. The paper seeks to examine the possible benefits that might accrue from applying a distributed, multilevel approach to water governance in this and other settings.
Interviews with over 100 fruit growers and ranchers and with ten water managers in the Okanagan Valley between 2005 and 2009 are conducted. Archival materials documenting the history of agriculture and irrigation in the valley are examined to provide historical depth to the study. An interdisciplinary review of theoretical literature on multilevel governance is conducted and also a comparative review of water governance systems in Canada and elsewhere.
The evidence supports the conclusion that distributed, multilevel governance systems offer an effective means of managing water in diverse settings, and that they are preferable, for a variety of reasons, to top‐down approaches that concentrate regulatory authority in state‐level institutions.
On a global scale, current water governance practices are proving inadequate to meet the challenges of increasing scarcity and competition. This paper describes a governance model that can be applied in many settings and which can help resolve conflict while facilitating sustainable management.
This paper integrates empirical and theoretical material from a variety of disciplines and diverse physical settings to construct a model of water governance designed to facilitate the combined goals of ecological sustainability, affordability, and equitable access to water resources.
Wagner, J. and White, K. (2009), "Water and development in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 378-392. https://doi.org/10.1108/17506200910999129Download as .RIS
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