- Water laws and legislationsearch for term
Laws and regulations provide the framework within which water-related policies are put into effect. However, in many developing countries capacity shortfalls mean that it is difficult to enforce elaborate legislation, so that laws relating to water need to take this into account. Among their key purposes are protection of public health, protection of natural resources, and prevention of unfair pricing. Legal instruments provide the mechanism for translating policy into practical implementation. Rules, regulations and standards provide the authority for management and enforcement agencies. They facilitate cross-sectoral actions, provide mechanisms for conflict recognition and resolution of competing interests. Effective regulatory systems are particularly essential for decentralised management, where standards may slip and irregularities occur. The major issues in framing water legislation include ownership of the resource, rights of usage and authority to regulate. Water law is also closely linked to land use in many countries. (See also Regulation and Water ownership; and Chapter 13.)
Further information: Water Resources Institutions, World Bank, 1992
- Water Marketssearch for term
The aim of water markets is to encourage existing water supplies to be used more efficiently, by allowing users to sell their water rights to other consumers. Water markets tend to be preferred by farmers to volumetric charges for irrigation water. All water, not just that which is surplus to the farmer’s use, becomes potentially marketable, and farmers have an incentive to drop low-value applications if they can earn more by selling it (‘water farming’). Water markets have other advantages:
(1) They recognise traditional water rights, capitalised in the value of land. Farmers become allies in the transfer of water to other users.
(2) They remove the need for largefinancial subsidies for building and operating irrigation systems, which usually benefit wealthier farmers.
(3) They offer flexibility in responding to changes in crop prices and water values.
The development of efficient water markets depends on a number of conditions, including the ability of the seller to establish ownership over the resource at law, which means that customary rights may be insufficient as a basis for a deal. In addition, for markets to operate in the public interest, the interests of third parties including environmental interests and those of populations living downstream of any large transfer need to be considered.
Further information (this mainly relates to Australia and New Zealand where considerable work has been done on water markets): Water allocations and entitlements: a national framework for the implementation of property rights in water, COAG, 1995.
- Water ownershipsearch for term
It is important to distinguish between ownership of water, and the right to have access to water and use it. Regulation of the resource can only arise out of an authority, explicit or implicit, that the government has the right to manage the resource in the public good. Most governments expressly own water, and the protection of the resource is therefore a public function to which individual rights are subservient. The right to use water is based either on customary or statutory claims. In order to be regulated, these must be clearly identified. Customary rights may include the right to expropriate, use or trade water, on which can be built systems of community ownership or use and water 224 charges. While building upon existing systems is often the surest and most acceptable route to implementation, systems based only on customary rights may not be able to assure efficient and equitable allocation of a scarce resource. A system of water law needs not only mechanisms of ensuring access to water (water rights) but also a system of obligations regarding usage and control of the levying of water charges by individuals (restriction of rights).
- Water quality standardssearch for term
Whether water quality is satisfactory will depend on its intended use (e.g. drinking, other domestic usage such as bathing, irrigation, industrial use). Factors such as scarcity will also affect the quality standards applied. Setting these standards, which should be enshrined in law, is the responsibility of the government regulatory authority regarding water in the country or state concerned; WHO has issued international guidelines to facilitate this process although they can be demanding. Some variables are critical to human health and should be checked whatever the level of service; for example, for drinking water, E. coli and total coliform bacteria should not be detectable in any 100 ml sample. However, the high level of public health importance placed on water quality in municipal water and wastewater services may not be appropriate for basic water supply services. Studies have shown that water quantity often plays a more significant role than water quality in improving health and reducing morbidity from water-related disease in low-income communities. The time, energy and difficulty of water-hauling means that, typically, very little water is used in the household for any purpose, and this coupled with inadequate means of excreta disposal has a greater impact on health than lack of safe water. In addition, water often becomes contaminated between the source of supply and its use (see Hygiene education, above). Thus, obtaining high standards of water quality in basic services schemes may be less important than making available a high volume per capita at a close distance to the home. Measuring water quality is a technical procedure; laboratories and suitable equipment will be needed.
Further information: WHO, Guidelines for drinking water quality, 1993.
- Water User Associationssearch for term
Water User Associations normally comprise a formal, usually legally-bound, group of farmers (or water users), often grouped around a particular canal or borehole, with responsibility for managing and maintaining the part of the system that serves them. These Associations have come into existence as a result of governmental determination, often with donor support, to devolve some of the responsibility for the management and maintenance of irrigation (or domestic water and wastewater) services from central government onto users. Motivated by the search for efficiency and cost-savings, the creation of Water User Associations can be seen as a form of privatisation, with the government agency adopting the role of service provider rather than operator. Water User Associations can also be seen as a means of community participation and community ownership of services. The degree of responsibility for the service and its maintenance varies from one model to another. In principle, their creation should lead to greater user commitment and reduced government intervention. To date, success with this approach towards devolution of services has varied considerably.
Further information: User Organisations for Sustainable Water Services, World Bank, 1997. Impacts of Irrigation Management Transfer: A review of the Evidence, IIMI, 1997
- Water-borne diseasessearch for term
The term ‘waterborne disease’ is often used loosely, to describe all diseases carried by water. Strictly, water-borne diseases are those in which the infectious agent is itself carried by water: diarrhoeal diseases including typhoid, cholera and dysentery; and infectious hepatitis. Other diseases are water-washed: skin diseases such as yaws, scabies, leprosy; eye diseases such as trachoma; or waterrelated, in which case the disease is spread via an organism living in water, such as schistosomiasis (via snails) and guinea-worm; they may be insect related, in which case they are spread by an insect that breeds in water or bites near it, such as sleeping sickness (tsetse fly), malaria and yellow fever (mosquito), river blindness (blackfly). Other diseases are spread by poor sanitation; pathogens in human excreta remain exposed or are washed into waterways. These include all diarrhoeal diseases and parasites such as hookworm and roundworm. Many factors in basic water supplies and sanitation projects and irrigation schemes need to take disease control into account.
Further information, consult WHO and UNICEF; 223 also Guidelines for Forecasting the Vector-borne Disease Implications of Water Resources.
- Willingness-to-pay (WTP) surveyssearch for term
In recent years the planning of water services has been greatly assisted by the spread of market surveys of potential users. These surveys aim to uncover users’ preferences for the proposed service, and what they would be willing to pay for it (hence the name, willingness-to-pay, or WTP surveys). These surveys provide a variety of information about householders’ current sources of water; the volume of water used for different purposes; their preferences about the proposed service; what they are now paying for water, and what they would be prepared to pay for a specified improvement; and whether they would connect up to a new supply source. These surveys are equally applicable for sanitation and sewerage. (For a fuller description see Chapter 13).Synonymes: WTP