Rural Water Governance in the Saskatchewan Portion of the Palliser Triangle: An Assessment of the Applicability of the Predominant Paradigms

Warren, James William
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

This thesis describes the paradigmatic forms of water governance and management employed by town and country communities, irrigation districts, regional pipeline systems and private water management systems in the Saskatchewan portion of the Palliser Triangle. It demonstrates that the trajectory of water policy development affecting the region since 2002, when the province developed its Safe Drinking Water Strategy, has reflected the influence of the market-based paradigm within the province’s water governance policy community. The application of policy measures that conform to the principles of the market-based water governance paradigm have failed to consistently produce the beneficial outcomes predicted by the paradigm’s advocates. The lack of consistent efficacy is apparent in outcomes related to water conservation, social equity and infrastructure financing objectives. The research demonstrates that the water management challenges facing the study communities are context specific. They are related to the hydrological and social conditions that obtain locally. In attempting to deal with social equity, conservation and infrastructure challenges, actors at the community level have found practices derived from each of the major water governance paradigms useful. Rather than attempting to apply any particular water governance template in cookie cutter fashion, policy makers need to be flexible and eclectic in their approaches to addressing the water governance and management challenges of rural communities in the Saskatchewan portion of the Palliser Triangle. One size does not fit all.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Special Case Doctor of Philosophy in Canadian Plains Studies, University of Regina. viii, 337 p.