Managing common-pool resources in a public service industry: The case of conjunctive water management
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractWater providers, public administrators, and policy-makers in the Western United States face consequential decisions regarding the use and management of limited water supplies for growing populations. A tool that water providers have employed to address this issue is conjunctive water management, or the coordinated use of ground and surface water supplies. Using the natural capacity of groundwater basins for storage of surface supplies, this method aims to enhance overall supplies and guard against drought. Implementing conjunctive water management, however, is not simple. Water providers operate under a complex array of institutional settings that affect conjunctive water management. This dissertation explains the development and implementation of conjunctive water management in the western United States in relation to the institutional arrangements that govern water resources. This dissertation looks to two literatures from a common research framework to evaluate conjunctive water management: the literature on public service industries and common-pool resource management theory. This dissertation identifies where the two literatures are weak and shows how the two theories can complement each other, helping resolve their respective weaknesses. Common-pool resource theory sets up criteria for sustainable resource management that requires matching institutional boundaries to natural resource boundaries. This dissertation explains how the criteria limit the theory's generalizability to large, complex systems. To resolve this weakness, the theory development section of this dissertation uses insights from public service industry theory on inter jurisdictional coordination. Second, this dissertation considers the weakness of public service industry theory in explaining coordination across jurisdictions. It borrows from common-pool resource literature to resolve this deficiency. The theory development section then derives hypotheses from the two literatures to explain how institutional arrangements affect conjunctive water management. The empirical section of this dissertation tests these hypotheses. In addition to testing the inferences from the theory development, the empirical analyses illustrate the different ways in which water providers coordinate the management of groundwater and surface water supplies in the West. Understanding these management outcomes in relation to their institutional settings has important policy implications for natural resource management in general.
Degree ProgramGraduate College