The Challenge and Opportunity of Collaborative Water Governance for Environmental Justice and Implications for the Human Right to Water

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Date

2019

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Abstract

"Two important trends in U.S. environmental policy are the devolution of decision-making towards regional, collaborative governance and environmental justice. In California, these trends have collided in the implementation of statewide groundwater reform, known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Using in-depth, semi-structured interviews with representatives from small (population < 10,000), low-income communities in Central California, this paper provides an important window into the experiences and perspectives of environmental justice communities participating in collaborative governance. While lack of access, influence and recognition characterize the majorities’ experience, signaling a continuation of historic marginalization, new patterns and possibilities also emerge, underscoring the disruptive potential of institutional reform. This 'janus-face' of collaborative governance highlights the challenges and opportunities of devolved management for the environmental justice agenda and the complicated role of regional planning and institutions in achieving the state’s commitment of safe water for all."

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collaboration, governance, groundwater, institutions

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