Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic

Journal metrics

IF value: 5.153
IF5.153
IF 5-year value: 5.460
IF 5-year
5.460
CiteScore value: 7.8
CiteScore
7.8
SNIP value: 1.623
SNIP1.623
IPP value: 4.91
IPP4.91
SJR value: 2.092
SJR2.092
Scimago H <br class='widget-line-break'>index value: 123
Scimago H
index
123
h5-index value: 65
h5-index65
Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-86
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-86
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  10 Mar 2020

10 Mar 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal HESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

Unravelling intractable water conflicts: the entanglement of science and politics in decision-making on a large hydraulic infrastructure project

Jonatan Godinez-Madrigal1,2, Nora Van Cauwenbergh1, and Pieter van der Zaag1,2 Jonatan Godinez-Madrigal et al.
  • 1Department of Land and Water Management, IHE Delft, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 2Water Management Department, TU Delft, Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract. Global trends suggest that cities around the world are increasingly depleting available water resources. A common strategy is to opt for supply augmentation infrastructure. However, this response can be a financial and social burden for many cities, because they entail developing expensive infrastructure and can trigger social conflicts. Science is often expected to play a key role in informing policymakers and social actors to clarify controversies surrounding policy responses to water scarcity. However, managing conflicts is a socio-political process, and the use of models may have the effect of de-politicizing such processes; conveying the idea that optimal solutions can be objectively identified despite the many perspectives and interests at play. This raises the question whether science can depoliticize water conflicts, or whether instead conflicts politicize science-policy processes? We use the Zapotillo dam and water transfer project in Mexico to analyze the roles of science-policy processes in water conflicts. The Zapotillo project aims at augmenting urban water supply to Guadalajara and León, two large cities in Western Mexico, but a social and legal conflict has stalled the project until today. To analyze the conflict and how stakeholders make sense of it, we interviewed the most relevant actors and studied negotiations between different interest groups through participant observation. To examine the role of science-policy processes in the conflict, we mobilized concepts of epistemic uncertainty and ambiguity and analyzed the design and use of water resources models produced by key actors aiming to resolve the conflict. While the use of models is a proven method to construct future scenarios and test different strategies, the parameterization of scenarios and their results depend on the knowledge and/or interests of actors who own the model. We found that in the Zapotillo case, scenarios reflected the interests and strategies of actors on one side of the conflict, resulting in increased distrust by the opposing actors. We conclude that the dilemma of achieving urban water security through investing in either large infrastructure (supply augmentation) or alternative strategies (demand-side management), cannot be resolved if some key interested parties have not been involved in the scientific processes framing the problem and solution space.

Jonatan Godinez-Madrigal et al.

Interactive discussion

Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Interactive discussion

Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Jonatan Godinez-Madrigal et al.

Jonatan Godinez-Madrigal et al.

Viewed

Total article views: 577 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
453 111 13 577 20 14 14
  • HTML: 453
  • PDF: 111
  • XML: 13
  • Total: 577
  • Supplement: 20
  • BibTeX: 14
  • EndNote: 14
Views and downloads (calculated since 10 Mar 2020)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 10 Mar 2020)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 475 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 474 with geography defined and 1 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
1
 
 
 
 

Cited

Saved

No saved metrics found.

Discussed

No discussed metrics found.
Latest update: 19 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Download
Short summary
Our research studies how knowledge is produced, how is used and what was its effect in decreasing uncertainties and ambiguity on a long water conflict involving the development of large infrastructure. We interviewed key actors in the conflict and replicated the results of water resources models developed to solve the conflict. We found that knowledge produced in isolation have no positive effect in transforming the conflict; instead, its potential could be enhanced if produced collaboratively.
Our research studies how knowledge is produced, how is used and what was its effect in...
Citation