Metropolitan Water Use Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific

Metropolitan Water Use Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific

Metropolitan Water Use Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific

Metropolitan Water Use Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific

Excerpt

This volume lies at the confluence of many streams. The catchment is at the East-West Center in Honolulu, which for over a decade has explored the problems of managing water and what it touches in an integrated manner. An early product of this exploration was a 1986 volume in this series, edited byK. William Easter,John Dixon, andMaynard Hufschmidt , Watershed Resources Management.

The headwaters of this book, to the extent that it is possible to single out one source (or extend the metaphor), may be identified as a 1985- 1987 joint project on water resources management in the greater urban areas of Beijing and Tianjin. That activity, carried out by the East-West Center and the State Science and Technology Commission of the People's Republic of China, clearly identified both the growing conflict between urban and agricultural water users and the increasing need to adopt demand management policies to resolve this conflict rather than rely on the traditional supply-oriented approach of building new projects.

The question that followed was whether similar conflicts and management prescriptions might apply to areas in Asia and the Pacific other than north China. Borrowing the concept of the "maturing water economy," originally used by Alan Randall to describe Australia's water situation, we hypothesized that, indeed, certain forces are at work that necessitate a rethinking of how water is managed in this region, and possibly in other areas as well. In particular, Asia's cities are large, growing, and mostly located within the world's most extensively irrigated farmland. The bulk of the water that can be claimed for human use at relatively low expense has already been appropriated; this applies to its quality (assimilative capacity) as well as its quantity. Supply-side options to develop or treat additional water are increasingly expensive both economically and politically, making demand-oriented solutions more and more attractive as alternatives.

The papers in this volume originated in a 1989-1993 project on water use conflicts in Asia-Pacific metropolises, which was conducted by the East-West Center in cooperation with the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) in Nagoya, Japan. For the UNCRD, this project was an outgrowth of its 1987-1990 project on River/Lake Basin . . .

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