Illegal water abstractions are a major and still unsolved challenge in many parts of the world. Illegal water abstraction often contributes to overexploitation, data uncertainties and severe policy implementation gaps, and water managers are still looking for effective and lasting solutions.
Whilst the causes and the theory of what could be done to reduce illegal abstractions has been explored, there is little information shared on what is actually happening on the ground. Therefore, we are bringing concerned water practitioners and scientists together on a pro-bono basis to exchange on successful and failed experiences in different parts of the world, and to reflect on recommendations for peers.
We plan for preparing a Report, including the following elements:
“How to tackle illegal water abstractions? Taking stock from experiences, Lessons learned” (preliminary title)
At this stage, we have confirmed contributions from case studies and experiences in Spain (Doñana and Daimiel areas), South Africa (Northern Cape in Orange and Vaal basins), UK, and Australia (Murray-Darling Basin). All contributors shall be included as co-authors of the Report, and we can/will specify in the report specific contributions, if adequate.
• What do we mean by “illegal water use”
• Why does it matter
• What do we want to achieve with this document; map with the case studies and expertise considered in this document. Focus of the report: global geographic dimension; major water abstractions (agricultural, mining, hydropower; not residential/domestic)
2. A Typology
Different types of “illegal use”: e.g. no permit; outdated permit; more use than allowed; “black markets”, others?
Definitions (reference to IWA terminology)
What drives illegal use: e.g. economic benefits derived from use; depletion of legally assigned resource/basin closure; laissez-faire; too complex legislation; lack of resource to enforce legislation, costs, poverty, water too expensive, others
On the environment, on people
5. Strategies (For each strategy: what is it, where was it implemented, advantages and barriers)
5.1 How to detect
5.1.1. Remote sensing
5.1.2. Integrated data management (cross checking with other permits and information sharing across administrations)
5.1.3. Improved/increased and integrated control on the ground; incl. reference to challenges for monitoring, compliance and enforcement in transboundary rivers; Australian 'smart' water meters,
5.2 How to tackle
5.2.1. Set up an appropriate/enforceable water rights system (e.g. to construct illegal/unlawful water extraction in law as 'theft'; western USA reference )
5.2.2. Establish cross compliance of agricultural subsidies
5.2.3. Involvement of water users in enforcement and control
5.2.4. Legal actions and fines
5.2.5. Training and information to help farmers to comply with abstraction restrictions
5.2.6 Positive incentives: Value chain and certification including legal water use (e.g. GLOBALGAP, Organic farming, etc)
5.2.7. Raising awareness about the consequences of overdraft
5.2.8. Proper water pricing and cost recovery…
6. Lessons learned and recommendations (to be drafted at the end)
7. Annex with case studies (to be agreed)
Scientific paper - We also aim to prepare a scientific paper based on the Report, as a second step.
As Next Step, we look for individual contributions that describe case studies/experiences and their specific lessons learned. Case studies should ideally be 5-10 pages long, be ready by 15 September 2018, and include information on:
a) Type(s) of illegal use(s) in the case study . Describe the illegal use (location, magnitude/amount, water source(s), water uses, users, how is water abstracted, since when, evolution, why it is not ‘legal’)
b) Drivers : What drives illegal use: e.g. economic benefits derived from use; depletion of legally assigned resource/basin closure; laissez-faire; too complex legislation; lack of resource to enforce legislation, costs, poverty, water too expensive, others
c) Consequences/impact: On the environment, on people…
d) Strategies: Describe strategies applied to detect and tackle illegal use, what strategy, who designed and implemented it, when and how was it implemented, advantages and barriers
e) Lessons learned and recommendations that can be drawn from the case study
If you are interested in engaging, please contact us.
We look forward to hearing from you,
Guido Schmidt & Lucia De Stefano