Glacial Flooding & Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Exchange and Field Training July 11-24, 2013 in Huaraz, Peru HighMountains.org/workshop/peru-2013
Towards Integrated Water Governance at Peru’s Lake Parón Adam French University of California, Berkeley Integrated Water Resource Management in Peru th st During the late 20 and early 21 centuries, the paradigm of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) has achieved increasing influence over water governance activities in many parts of the world. According to the oft-‐cited definition of the Global Water Partnership (GWP), IWRM is “a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems and the environment” (GWP n.d.). Furthermore, IWRM “is a cross-‐sectoral policy approach…based on the understanding that water resources are an integral component of the ecosystem, a natural resource, and a social and economic good”. Discursively, IWRM is appealing for its rational and balanced approach, which stresses multi-‐sectoral management and broadly inclusive and participatory processes that allow diverse stakeholders to negotiate distinct values and resource needs. IWRM purportedly achieves these outcomes through a combination of management instruments, institutional innovations, and enabling conditions that promote public participation, cross-‐ sectoral integration, and rational and efficient resource use.
Despite its discursive appeal, IWRM is not without its critics. In many cases, the very characteristics that give the concept its promise in theory–valuing water for its diverse uses across human needs and economic sectors while promoting participation, equity, and sustainability–present major challenges to its implementation. In his analysis of the GWP definition of IWRM quoted above, Biswas suggests that while the definition “appears impressive, it is really unusable, or un-‐implementable, in operational terms,” and “even though the rhetoric of integrated water resources management has been very strong in the various international forums of the past decade, its actual use (irrespective of what it means) has been minimal” (Biswas 2004, 250). While Biswas and other critics consider the IWRM vision un-‐implementable in practice, the paradigm’s influence on water policy and management in a wide array of global contexts should not be dismissed (Orlove and Caton 2010). In Peru, for example, the implementation of IWRM principles has been promoted for more than a decade through significant funding and advocacy projects supported by international lenders and transnational policy advocacy networks (ANA 2008, cf. Goldman 2007). In many of its guiding principles as well as its specific policies, Peru’s 2009 Hydrologic Resources Law clearly exhibits the influence of the IWRM model (Peru 2009). Thus the Peruvian National Water Authority’s (ANA) efforts to implement IWRM provide a useful context for assessing the empirical outcomes of the diffusion of this global environmental governance paradigm. 1
In the brief analysis that follows, I examine an ongoing water conflict at Peru’s Lake Parón and the governance processes it has elicited to consider such empirical outcomes and to offer suggestions for improving IWRM management in this context. Lake Parón’s Hydro-‐social Context Lake Parón (4200 m) is located in a narrow glacial basin ringed by some of the highest mountains in the world’s tropical zone. The lake is the largest of some 400 glacial lakes in the Cordillera Blanca, the highest and most-‐extensively glaciated mountain range in the Tropics (ANA 2011). When full to its brim, the lake is nearly four kilometers (km) long by a half km wide and its surface is roughly 90 meters (m) above its bed at the deepest point. The watershed that feeds Lake Parón is 42 km2 in area and has the highest percentage of glacial cover of any major basin in the Cordillera Blanca, with an estimated 39% glacial cover in 2009 (Baraer et al. 2012). Illustrating the dramatic rate of deglaciation in this region, the percentage of glacial cover in the Parón basin has decreased from 72% glacial cover in 1930 and 55% glacial cover in 1970 to its current levels (Baraer et al. 2012, Bury et al. 2013).
Despite Lake Parón’s isolation in a remote mountain canyon, it is intricately connected to a diversity of landscapes and communities through the waters that flow from the lake into the Parón River. This river flows through a steep, narrow valley amidst the Polylepis forests of Huascarán National Park and then passes into a mosaic of agricultural parcels before joining the Huancutey River to form the Llullán River, which continues its descent to a confluence with the Santa River near the regional center of Caraz (pop. ~20,000). Along its roughly 20 km length, the Parón-‐Llullán River supplies water to thousands of irrigators growing an array of crops ranging from staple varieties of tuber and maiz to carnations and other ornamental flowers for regional and international markets. This irrigation water is particularly critical during the tropical dry season (May-‐ October), when little precipitation falls. Additionally, the river is the principal source of potable water for the growing urban districts of Caraz. The importance of Lake Parón’s waters, however, extends far beyond the limits of the Parón–Llullán watershed. In the early 1990’s, after risk mitigation activities led to the construction of a drainage tunnel at the lake, a set of hydraulic valves was installed to permit the manipulation of the lake’s discharge regime. This manipulation of discharge permitted Lake Parón to serve as a regulating reservoir for the Cañon del Pato hydroelectric plant on the Santa River, downstream of the Llullán River confluence (Carey, French and O'Brien 2012). Initially, the Cañon del Pato as well as Lake Parón were administered by state-‐owned Electroperú, but after privatization of the Cañon del Pato system in the 1990’s, ownership passed to an international consortium and was eventually consolidated under the control of Duke Energy (Carey 2010). After 2000, Duke began to intensify its use of Lake Parón for power production, and local complaints about alterations to the flow regime in the Parón–Llullán watershed began to mount. Complaints over Duke’s management of the lake came from diverse sectors, but especially from local irrigators who complained of excessive discharges that damaged irrigation infrastructure as well as a lack of sufficient flows for their water needs at the end of some annual dry seasons. Additionally, local residents expressed grievances over increased turbidity in the potable water of Caraz as well as detrimental effects on the local tourism industry when the lake was drawn down to the level of its discharge tunnel (Carey
et al. 2012). By the mid-‐2000’s, state entities like Huascarán National Park and the Organization for the Supervision of Investment in Energy and Mining formally responded to local complaints but generally failed to bring about changes in the energy company’s discharge practices. Under these conditions, in mid-‐2008, a local coalition seized the discharge infrastructure at the lake, evicting Duke Energy’s personnel from the site. While there are many important details of the process leading up to the seizure of the discharge infrastructure that cannot be developed in this context, this local occupation of the lake can be viewed, on the one hand, as an assertion of local control over territory and natural resources fundamental to livelihood production, and, on the other, as an adaptive response to the failure of state institutions to coordinate, monitor, and enforce national legal and environmental regulations. During the period between 2000-‐08, when local complaints were mounting against Duke, agricultural water use was prioritized over the demands of other sectors like industry and energy production under the still-‐binding 1969 Water Law. Duke’s operation of the discharge infrastructure at times clearly contradicted this hierarchy of priorities, but the company’s use of the lake’s flows was supported by the water license that they had inherited through privatization (Carey et al. 2012, French 2012). As the rights of local residents came into conflict with the license of the company, government institutions were needed to mediate between different actors as well as the incompatible mandates of their own legislation.
In 2009, the Hydrologic Resources Law (Law #29338) was passed, replacing the 1969 legislation. Under this new water law, water remained the property of the nation and direct human consumption was still the highest priority (Peru 2009). Yet, under this new legislation, agricultural water use was no longer prioritized over other sectoral uses, and instead a model of integrated water management was mandated. This integrated governance model calls for efficient use across sectors and participatory processes at the level of the watershed; conditions suggesting that a resolution to the Lake Parón conflict would require dialogue and compromise on the part of all actors as well as institutional formation led by the state. In examining the development of the governance of Lake Parón since the passage of the new water law, however, significant challenges to the integrated water management paradigm are apparent.
Efforts Towards Conflict Resolution and Integrated Management Five years have elapsed since the local occupation of the discharge infrastructure at Lake Parón. Here again, the rich details of the still-‐ongoing resolution efforts cannot be developed fully in this context. Instead I focus the remainder of this analysis on the critical need for an integrative institution capable of bringing the diverse actors involved in the conflict together in the governance process. Over the past years, there have been various efforts by diverse entities to promote the formation of such an institution, most often referred to as a management committee (comité de gestión) for Lake Parón. Following the rhetoric of the 2009 water law, this coordinating institution might also be considered a watershed management council (consejo de cuenca) for the Parón-‐Llullán sub-‐catchment.
Initial efforts to form a management committee for Lake Parón began towards the end of the 2008-‐2009 rainy season, when the level of the lake reached its maximum secure elevation of 4190 meters above sea level. As this limit was reached, ANA attempted to form a management committee to lower the lake, but local actors refused participation in such 3
an institution until the formal title to the lake and surrounding lands had been restored to the Peruvian state as property of Huascarán National Park. This reversion of the lake’s title was finally achieved in early 2010 after the declaration of a national state of emergency in light of the lake’s level reaching the risk-‐ prone elevation of 4195 meters. With the title problem resolved, local actors agreed to participate in a technical operating committee (comité de operación) that brought together many of the key actors in the conflict. Local participants, however, remained unwilling to permit Duke’s direct participation in the committee, and the institution’s founding legislation was thus modified to exclude actors from outside the Parón-‐Llullán watershed. Despite Duke’s exclusion, the operating committee successfully coordinated the lowering of the lake’s level in 2010 and again in 2011, and, in conjunction with a parallel management committee, the operating committee served to bring actors together in a collaborative, albeit often-‐conflicted, space. Given the progress being made by the committee, local actors consistently called for its formalization. According to legal records, once the committee was functioning, ANA suggested that Duke join the institution, but the company refused participation (Peru 2011), and it still remained uncertain whether or not local actors would permit the company’s participation. Although the operating committee was achieving important progress, Duke’s absence from the committee meant that a key actor in the conflict was not directly represented, and this absence likely precluded the possibility of formalizing the committee in the long-‐term. Under these circumstances, and citing the temporary nature of the operating committee’s formalization under the 2010 state of emergency, the operating committee was formally dissolved by ANA in late 2011, to the frustration of many local actors (French 2012). During 2012 and 2013, management efforts at Lake Parón have focused principally on attempts to conduct comprehensive maintenance of the discharge infrastructure at the lake. This maintenance has been complicated and delayed, however, by an ongoing lack of direct and transparent communication between diverse actors in the case as well as by abiding distrust among these actors. The continued lack of an integrative institution providing a formal space for the consistent and structured interactions that might help cultivate more open communication and trust between actors remains one of the foremost obstacles to the resolution of the Lake Parón conflict. Moreover, the inability to form an integrative management institution at Lake Parón highlights some of the foremost challenges to implementing the vision of integrated water resource management that is the foundation of Peru’s new water law. Overcoming the obstacles to institutional formation at Lake Parón—as well as in other conflicted contexts like that of the larger Santa River watershed—will require, on the one hand, a greater willingness on the part of all actors to create more inclusive governance spaces characterized by compromise and collaborative decision making. On the other hand, such progress will require strong leadership and effective coordination between diverse state institutions tasked with different aspects of the management of vital and increasingly scarce hydrologic resources. Until these conditions can be met, the Peruvian state’s vision of integrated water governance will remain partially implemented at best. Yet despite these significant challenges, the conflict at Lake Parón provides an exceptional test case for the development of integrated resource governance institutions; and, if handled effectively in the future, the governance of Lake Parón could serve as a model for integrated water governance in many other conflicted settings in Peru and beyond.
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Published on Sep 25, 2013
During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the paradigm of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) has achieved increasing influence...