River basin management will inevitably be delivered through institutional structures. In this chapter we refer mainly to the agencies which are set up specifically to manage river basins, though the management of the resource ‘package’ inherent in a basin will clearly involve the whole panoply of society’s structures. Agenda 21 states (Chapter 18.21) that,
Although water is managed at various levels in the socio-political system, demand-driven management requires the development of water-related institutions at appropriate levels, taking into account the need for integration with land-use management.
The Agenda also provides good leadership in respect of the stakeholders involved; Figure 7.1 illustrates the range of society’s groupings deemed to have key roles in sustainable development, and underlying their involvement are the basic human institutions of finance, education, law, etc. As Priscoli (1989) puts it:
Institutions are the embodiment of values in regularised patterns of behaviour.
The institutions and organisations that supply and distribute water resources reflect society’s values towards equity, freedom and justice.
(Priscoli, 1989, pp. 33, 34)
While many water professionals may prefer the stability of their occupational remoteness from everyday issues, the importance of their field makes this an impossible luxury:
The significance of modern science and technology is that we now know well the potential for degrading the water and for safeguarding it, and this sharpens the social and political challenge of water policies.
(Kinnersley, 1988, pp. 6-7; emphasis added)
As was noted earlier (Chapter 1), a feature of the hydraulic civilisations of prehistory, due mainly to their complete dependence upon irrigation, was a very strong social structure in which the most basic, vital commodity was a