Call for Papers: AAG 2017

Decolonizing Water:
Indigenous water politics, resource extraction and settler colonialism

Please see PDF below for more details.

Deadline to submit proposal is October 20th, 2016.

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New opportunity: Funding for Masters, PhD and Post-Doctoral studentships available for Sustainable Water Governance and Indigenous Law project

The Sustainable Water Governance and Indigenous Law project is currently welcoming applications from Masters, PhD students and Post-Doctoral fellows interested in any of the following: sustainable water governance, Indigenous law, settler colonialism and resource industries, critical political economy, political ecology and community-based research.

Collaboration with Indigenous communities is a central mandate of the project.

If interested, please send an expression of interest, including a CV and cover letter (including research areas and potential universities of interest) to by October 30, 2016.

Please see the poster below for more details.

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New Policy Report on Colonial and Indigenous Water Governance in BC

A new project report has been released for the PoWG project on First Nations and the shifting water governance landscape of British Columbia, part of the SSHRC-funded WEPGN: Water Economics Policy and Governance Network.

The project report by PoWG co-director Dr. Leila Harris and PoWG alumna Rosie Simms summarizes the findings of Rosie’s masters research into the shifting roles and experiences of First Nations in water governance in British Columbia. In particular, it identifies key concerns about water licensing; barriers and challenges in colonial and water governance; and opportunities and tensions surrounding collaborative watershed governance.

Harris, L. & Simms, R. (2016). “All of the water that is in our reserves and that is in our territories is ours”: Colonial and indigenous water governance in unceded indigenous territories in British Columbia. Project Report. Canadian Water Network & Water, Economics, Policy and Governance Network. French version available here.

The main findings of this research and insights for decision makers are summarized in a policy brief, available in English and French.

Chapter in new book on the politics of freshwater

PoWG co-director Leila Harris has contributed a chapter to a new book on the ‘politics of fresh water’, exploring the intersection of gender, ethnic difference, and equality in water access and politics. The edited collection forms part of EarthScan’s Studies in Water Resources Management book series. It will be released in December 2016, and is currently available for pre-order.

Harris, L. (in press) Theorizing Gender, Ethnic Difference and Inequality in Relation to Water Access and Politics in Southeastern Turkey. In: C. Ashcraft and T. Mayer (Eds) The Politics of Freshwater: Access, Conflict and Identity, Routledge, Earthscan.

Dr Harris’ chapter makes two assertions. First, one cannot assess, and fully understand the politics of fresh water without attention to inequality, notably with respect to gender and other axes of difference. Second, water access and politics often play a central role in constituting key categories of difference and inequality. As such, these categories are not static, but shift and change in relation to the changing waterscape and associated environmental dynamics. This chapter elaborates these assertions with examples based on earlier work examining complex waterscape changes underway in the upper Tigris-Euphrates basin, also highlighting key concepts from several decades of work in feminist political ecology.

A pre-publication version of Dr Harris’ chapter is also available here.

New policy brief: Comparative analysis of microbial water quality risk assessment in Canada

Members of the Program on Water Governance recently released a policy brief on microbial water quality risk assessment practices in Canada, based on research conducted in 2014. The purpose of this research was to help understand how new technologies associated with metagenomics could improve microbial water quality testing, and how such technologies might fit within existing water quality governance frameworks. The policy brief summarizes the main findings from this research, and identifies key insights for policy makers, practitioners, and the public.

Full details on the study can be found in:

Dunn, G., Harris, L. Cook, C. and Prystajecky, N. (2014).  A comparative analysis of current microbial water quality risk assessment and management practices in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. Science of the Total Environment 468-469: 544-552.

New policy brief: Public consultation and the BC Water Sustainability Act

Members of the Program on Water Governance have just released a new policy brief, which summarizes their analysis of the BC Water Act Modernization consultation process, and identifies key implications for policy-makers and participants. Their findings are described in greater detail in a journal article that is currently under review, and will be made available on the website once published.

Jollymore, A. McFarlane, K. and Harris, L.M. 2016. Whose input counts? Public consultation and the BC Water Sustainability Act. Policy Brief. Vancouver: Program on Water Governance.

The policy brief summarizes the results of an analysis of the large-scale consultation process undertaken for British Columbia’s Water Act Modernization between 2008-2013. Submissions were analysed from the three stages of consultation that informed the development of the Water Sustainability Act (2014), to explore variability in the policy preferences of submitter groups, and compare those preferences with policy outcomes in the Act. The results of this analysis indicate uneven alignment between policy outcomes and the policy preferences of different groups. Submitter perspectives on the consultation process were also analysed, highlighting key ways in which the consultative process could be improved.

New Workshop Report: Community-Based Research and Water

On May 16th, 2016 a workshop on Community-Based Research (CBR) and Water was held at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. This workshop was organised as part of a joint project on CBR by the Institute of Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES–UBC), the Program on Water Governance (UBC) and the UNESCO Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education (UVic). More information on the CBR partnership project can be found here.

The workshop consisted of two sessions combining theory and practice of CBR. A workshop report has since been compiled, summarising the key discussions and conclusions from each session, and is available here.

Thank you to all who made this workshop possible!

New article by L Rodina

Lucy Rodina recently published a new paper on the ‘human right to water’, drawing on her case study research in Khayelitsha, South Africa. The article is published in Geoforum, and can be accessed at

Rodina, L. (2016). Human right to water in Khayelitsha, South Africa – Lessons from a ‘lived experiences’ perspective. Geoforum, 72: 58-66.


New article by L Rodina & L Harris on water service provision and citizenship

Lucy Rodina and Leila Harris recently published an article on the relationship between urban water service infrastructures and narratives of the state and citizenship.

The full text version of this article is freely available on the Water Alternatives website:

Rodina, L. and Harris, L. (2016). Water services, lived citizenship, and notions of the state in marginalised urban spaces: The case of Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa. Water Alternatives 9(2): 336-355.

ABSTRACT: In this paper we argue that in South Africa the state is understood and narrated in multiple ways, notably differentiated by interactions with service provision infrastructure and the ongoing housing formalisation process. We trace various contested narratives of the state and of citizenship that emerge from interactions with urban water service infrastructures. In effect, the housing formalisation process rolls out through specific physical infrastructures, including, but not limited to, water services (pipes, taps, water meters). These infrastructures bring with them particular logics and expectations that contribute to a sense of enfranchisement and associated benefits to some residents, while others continue to experience inadequate services, and linked exclusions. More specifically, we learn that residents who have received newly built homes replacing shack dwellings in the process of formalisation more often narrate the state as legitimate, stemming from the government role as service provider. Somewhat surprisingly, these residents at times also suggest compliance with obligations and expectations for payment for water and responsible water consumption. In contrast, shack dwellers more often characterise the state as uncooperative and neglectful, accenting state failure to incorporate alternative views of what constitutes appropriate services. With an interest in political ecologies of the state and water services infrastructures, this paper traces the dynamic processes through which states and citizenship are mutually and relationally understood, and dynamically evolving. As such, the analysis offers insights for ongoing state-society negotiations in relation to changing infrastructure access in a transitioning democracy.