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New Governance Schemes For Frontiers Of Land And Water Governance

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Thomas Hartmann, Tejo Spit

t . h a r t m a n n @ u u . n l
Utrecht University1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 9: Water allocation among competing uses and users,

New governance schemes for frontiers of land and water governance


Thomas Hartmann & Tejo Spit

Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences PO-Box 80 115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands,


(Sub-theme 9: Water allocation among competing uses and users)


A society that intensifies and expands the use of land and water in urban areas needs to rethink the relation between spatial planning and water management. The dynamics of urban development and changing environmental constraints cause an urgent need for innovative concepts of land and water governance. The claim for more space for rivers for flood retention (Hartmann, 2011) and environmental protection (Moss & Monstadt, 2008), the fragmentation of the drinking water sector (Moss, 2009), or unsolved upstream-downstream relations (Scherer, 1990) are illustrative of these dynamics. Therewith, increasingly, water management steps into the governance arena of spatial planning, and spatial planning needs to reconsider its notions of water issues.

Resolving and dealing with such tensions and frictions asks for reconsideration of the traditional institutional divide between spatial planning and water management. Water management and spatial planning usually pursue essentially different modes of governance: water management traditionally relies on engineering and technical solutions, spatial planning usually mediates between competing interests without having its own strong institutional capacities (Hartmann & Driessen, 2013; Moss, 2004). Spatial planning is thereby more comprehensive and meta-disciplinary than water management, which tends to be more specific and sectoral (Moss, 2009). Whereas water engineers aim to control and regulate the water sector, spatial planning aims for the coordination and integration of many different sector activities (Hartmann & JÃŒpner, 2014). Governance schemes for land and water governance need to be "aware of the problems with existing boundaries in water governance" (Edelenbos et al., 2013, p. 349). Often, approaches focus instead on the institutional boundaries of land and water management (Grigg, 2008).


Frontiers of land and water governance


Analytically, three major frontiers of land and water governance can be distinguished along the physical boundaries between land and water: horizontal, vertical, and fluid frontiers. Along these physical boundaries, land and water issues overlap and create specific governance challenges.


Vertical frontiers

The vertical boundary between land and water is between groundwater and water infrastructure below, and land use above. Often the interactions between urban land uses on top and water below -- like drinking water supply, pipes for freshwater and sewage that enable land uses, or pollution of groundwater -- occur quite unnoticeably. However, socio-economic and environmental changes challenge this boundary in various ways. In order to find appropriate governance schemes for this frontier, one needs to tackle problems that are not visible in the first place and situations of externalities and long-term effects. This will most likely make it more difficult to activate stakeholders and reach commitment within a certain governance arrangement.


Horizontal frontiers

The horizontal boundary of land and water establishes itself along riverfronts and coastlines. In terms of governance, such areas are usually contested terrains: tourism, environmental protection, real estate development, and others issues are in conflict in regard to the use of land and water. In fact, analytically one can observe various governance frontiers between spatial planning and water management established along waterfronts. There is an increasing intensity of conflicts of interest, particularly in urban areas (e.g., waterfront development projects, floating homes).


Fluid frontiers

Fluid frontiers between land and water governance refer to situations where the physical boundary between land and water is changing permanently or temporarily (Brown & Damery, 2002; Hartmann & Spit, 2012). This predominantly is the case with storm surges, sea-level rise, but also with the desiccation of lakes. In addition, climate change affects water issues in many ways and diminishes or changes boundaries between land and water. The most prominent fluid boundary in urban regions is certainly flooding, especially because many urban areas are located on large water bodies (Hartmann, 2011). Water management but also spatial planning cannot rely on established and well-rehearsed procedures and institutions in the face of fluid frontiers. Instead, new governance schemes are required (Dworak & Görlach, 2005).


Governance schemes for the frontiers


Whereas the horizontal frontier has to deal with governance problems that are very long term and rather invisible, or, at least where causes and effects are not always obvious, the vertical frontier is one of high levels of socio-economic and environmental dynamics. The governance challenges along the fluid frontier, however, need to overcome entrenched lock-in situations and deal with uncertainty and normativity of flood risk perceptions in a particular way. The analytical distinction of vertical, horizontal, and fluid frontiers of land and water reveals the urgency for innovative governance approaches to address the different frontiers. In this paper, different cases and examples for such governance schemes are presented, compared, and discussed.

Brown, J. D., & Damery, S. L. (2002). Managing flood risk in the UK. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 27(4), 412–426.

Dworak, T., & Görlach, B. (2005). Flood risk management in Europe: the development of a common EU policy. International Journal of River Basin Management, 3(2), 97–103.

Edelenbos, N. Bressers, & P. Scholten (2013). Water governance as connective capacity. Burlington: Ashgate.

Grigg, N. S. (2008). Integrated water resources management: balancing views and improving practice. Water International, 33(3), 279–292.

Hartmann, T. (2011). Clumsy floodplains: Responsive land policy for extreme floods. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Hartmann, T., & Driessen, P. P. (2013). The Flood Risk Management Plan: Towards spatial water governance. Journal of Flood Risk Management, n/a. doi:10.1111/jfr3.12077

Hartmann, T., & Juepner, R. (2014). The Flood Risk Management Plan – An essential step towards the institutionalization of a paradigm shift. International Journal of Water Governance, 2(2).

Hartmann, T., & Spit, T. (2012). Managing riverside property: Spatial water management in Germany from a Dutch perspective. In T. Hartmann & B. Needham (Eds.), Planning by law and property rights reconsidered (pp. 97–114). Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Moss, T. (2004). The governance of land use river basins: Prospects for overcoming problems of institutional interplay with the EU Water Framework Directive. Land Use Policy, (21), 85–94.

Moss, T. (2009). Zwischen Ökologisierung GewÀsserschutz und Kommerzialisierung der Wasserwirtschaft: Neue Handlungsanforderungen an Raumplanung und Regionalpolitik. Raumforschung und Raumordnung, (1), 54–68.

Moss, T., & Monstadt, J. (2008). Restoring floodplains in Europe: Policy contexts and project experiences. London: IWA Publishing.

Scherer, D. (1990). Upstream downstream: Issues in environmental ethics. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.


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