The paracommons of competition for resource savings: Irrigation water conservation redistributes water between irrigation, nature, and society

Bruce A Lankford, Christopher A Scott

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Based on understandings of a natural resource commons, we examine the competition for redistributed irrigation water following water conservation. A ‘paracommons’ is characterised by an interconnected hydrology whereby changes to a proprietor's water management alters its distribution into different fractions/dispositions thereby adjusting water allocations to the four paracommoners; including the proprietor conserving water, an immediate neighbour, society and nature. The topic is important given the volumes potentially involved in irrigation savings; for example, a 15% reduction in the annual water depletion of an irrigation area of 30,000 hectares can notionally meet the domestic demands of one million people at 150 l/day/pp. However, this illustration, seeming to indicate that water conservation results in sizeable predictable outcomes, hides how water savings are captured by, or flow to, a paracommoner within the interlinked system. Using data from Mendoza, Argentina, we employ a model to examine 12 scenarios of conservation-driven water reallocation among paracommoners, and conclude with generalizable lessons.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107195
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Early online date11 Sep 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

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