This short outline for the P2P management of water resources was written by Violeta Cabello Villarejo, and it’s excerpted from aquabits.net
“Water has always been considered either a public good (in most cases) or a private one when it is appropriated to generate economic value, for instance in bottled water. Only at very local scales, water users communities have created institutions that manage water as a common pool resource as has been extensively documented by the work of Elinor Ostrom. The basic problem with water is that it is, by nature, a multi-scale resource: water is used for many purposes and managed at many different levels (local, regional, national, international). It is also multidimensional, its management requires dealing with social, economic, hydrological and climatic data, which is difficult to collect and usually not shared and coordinated among different institutions and scales.
So, what could an Open Infrastructure for water management look like? I will draw some initial ideas that will for sure be further developed in the International Conference on Information and Knowledge for Water Governance in the Network Society next June in Sevilla (@WaterP2P).
As a basic legal requirement, water should be declared a common resource (not public neither private) implying a co-reponsability of users (and by users I refer to any citizen that drinks water everyday) and managers. Its governance regime should be based on the principles of Openness as stated in Michel Bauwens presentation, with a real:
- Public participation. Decision-making processes should be clearly design and explicitly approved by law involving real participation in them
- Transparency on all data and information used in decision-making processes
- Access and Shareability of all type of datasets, models and derived information required for participation
Open Water Infrastructures could be developed as means to coordinate the different water management institutions operating at different scales (irrigation communities, urban areas, river basins, regional governments, etc.).
These platforms could be a means to enable what many current water management organizations lack:
- Polycentric data collection and harmonization in databases
- Forkability of hydrological, economic and socio-ecological models used in the planning process, thus generating a positive feedback over the information used for decision-making
- Tools for public participation (discussions, wikis, voting, etc.) enabling coordination at higher scales than the local, like the river basin
This requires of course a new way of understanding management of natural resources based on open standards and collaboration between citizens, researchers and managers. These platforms could be hubs for these different actors engaging in collaborative governance regimes that could improve both efficiency and democratic practices of water management organizations.”