Water Resources Sustainability: An Ecological Economies Perspective

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Water Resources Sustainability



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Sustainability is both a vague and politicized term, yet it is precisely because the world community has rallied around sustainability and sustainable development as normative goals of ecological-economic performance that the stakes are high for defining the concept in a manner that is true to its spirit. To do so, one must counteract definitions that either suit particular interests or are so broad and vague that most of what people do for selfinterested reasons fits within them. Like other fields, water resources has struggled to bring the concept of sustainability to bear in the realm of practice. For example, what allocation of water in the Klamath River basin best achieves sustainability? Are plans to pipeline fossil ground water from the Ogallala of North Texas to the growing cities of Dallas and San Antonio consistent with sustainability? Is it sustainable to forego renewable hydroelectric power in hopes that it will prevent the extinction of a strain of chinook or coho salmon? Is the recent completion of the Three Gorges dam project on the Yangtze River an example of sustainable development? How sustainable is it to live in a world where about one billion people lack access to safe drinking water and two billion lack access to the basic benefits of the sanitation revolution (DeVilliers 2000)?

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