Moving borders from the periphery to the center: River basins, political boundaries, and water management policy [chapter]

Robert G. Varady, Barbara J. Morehouse
2003 Water Resources Monograph  
WHY TRANSBOUNDARY BASINS ARE SIGNIFICANT Boundaries are a fact of life. We owe much of our understanding of the world, and of biophysical as well as societal interactions, to the order imposed by borders and boundaries. Yet, at the same time, we recognize "borderlands" as important areas that transcend political boundaries. These zones of interaction provide a place for utilizing things held in common (such as shared water resources) as well as reinforcing differences (for example, differing
more » ... ample, differing regulatory structures). Borders sometimes serve as legal or political barriers to scientific data gathering and collaboration. Of equal or even greater importance, borders often impede the rational application of scientific knowledge to the problems it is meant to solve. As Aaron Wolf and others have noted, the problems of managing water and other resources are exacerbated when those resources cross political boundaries and jurisdictions [Wolf, et al., 1999; Udall and Varady, 1994] . While this reasoning has been persuasive, the persistence of political and administrative practices that treat border areas as peripheries has prevented transboundary management issues from receiving the attention they deserve-an observation that is especially meaningful in the case of river basins. The distinctiveness of the transboundary condition should be of particular interest to scientists because of the contrast between the disparities engendered by political borders and the continuity found in natural processes. By and large, managers, decisionmakers, and the public-at-large accept that transboundary basins are distinct from watersheds that do not cross borders, and 10 1 Lawford Book Water Resource Monograph
doi:10.1029/016wm09 fatcat:muuh3atrxzb6toqovjyfrlekgi