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Exploring Involvement of Community of Water Users in Collaborative Water Resource Governance and Management Regime for Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan, Canada.



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The importance of freshwater to both ecosystems and humans, and its temporal characteristics, give rise to challenges that make it a complex resource to govern and manage globally. Lake Diefenbaker (LD), a man-made lake located in Saskatchewan (SK), Canada, is an important and significant water source of multi-uses for social, economic, and environmental purposes. There has been a call for a collaborative water governance and management regime to overcome precarious management of this lake. To fill the existing collaboration gap in the lake’s water governance and management, the purpose of this research was to explore the ‘community of water users’ involvement in the implementation of a collaborative water governance and management regime at LD. Its objectives were: (i) to understand the initiating conditions necessary for successful implementation of collaborative efforts; (ii) to explore a potential collective institution and to analyze the collective capacity of its members for a collaborative governance and management regime; (iii) to advance management of recreational hazard at the lake by applying a novel Bayesian modelling approach. This research applied a ‘wide and deep’ participatory epistemology, which resulted in recruitment of a wide selection of participants over six months. The research followed a sequential exploratory strategy, whereby data collection and analysis took place in two phases. It also employed several methods and tools, found in both social and natural sciences, giving the research an interdisciplinary orientation. Manuscript one posits that the incentives for, and constraints on participation in governance are predictors of successful collaborative governance efforts such as for collaborative planning for multi-use lakes. Specifically, the results show that water use conflicts originated from lack of both the coherence of regulatory instruments in the current governance regime, and acceptable management procedures in seven areas of: irrigation, industrial, and recreational water uses; reservoir water level for flood control and hydroelectricity production; wastewater and lagoon management; fish farm operations; and regional water development projects. Opportunities to advance a collaborative regime for LD and successful collaborative planning for the seven areas of water uses need to: (i) improve water allocation to dissipate consumptive water use conflicts; (ii) improve regulatory instruments to assuage under-regulation for contemporary water uses; and (iii) develop a LD water use master plan as a shared vision to improve participation in governance. Manuscript two explored formation of a lake association by the community of water users as a collective institution to enable their involvement in the collaborative governance and management regime. This was done by concurrently appraising the inward social context of the community of water users, termed as community attributes (CAs) and the LD’s physical characteristics, termed as biophysical resource characteristics (BRCs), using an enriched institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, which was adapted from the general IAD framework by Ostrom (2011). The emergence of a collective institution was revealed by the interactions of the BRCs and CAs calculated via the introduced enrichment of a heuristic calculation matrix. The results from the enriched IAD framework were then analyzed further to denote the collective capacity for self-governance within the emergent institution through the performance evaluation criteria of effectiveness, accountability, and adaptability. This emergent lake association, as a formal collective institution, provides the community of water users a structured platform and mechanism for participation in decision-making in the governance and management regime of LD. It also represents their untapped potential as central actors of interest towards advancing collaborative governance and management for LD. Manuscript three was a methodological advancement in investigating an environmental outcome presented as an eco-health issue of concern. It employed a Bayesian modelling using the OpenBUGS software. The investigation was on a microbial recreational hazard that involved swallowing Escherichia coli (E. coli) contaminated water during swimming and boating at LD. The model specified a novel mediated exposure pathway using recreational behaviour of a sub-set of the community of water users, in relation to meteorological and environmental conditions, and water quality indicative of E. coli contamination at 8 recreational sites around LD. The resultant model outputs establishing probabilities for exposure estimates for four events of interests, which were: (i) probability of swallowing water with E. coli from swimming at LD showing a median of 1.14E-4 and 95 % posterior credible interval of (9.95E-6, 5.09E-4) (ii) probability of swallowing water with E.coli following capsizing off a boat at LD having a median of 3.91E-4 and 95% posterior credible interval (2.85E-5 , 0.002) (iii) probability of not swallowing water with E. coli following aggregated events of swimming and from capsizing off a boat, having a median of 0.999 and 95 % posterior credible interval (0.998, 0.999); and probability of swallowing water with E. coli from either swimming or from capsizing off a boat while performing both activities, showing a median of 5.57E-4 and 95% posterior credible interval of 1.02E-45 to 0.002. The contributions from the LD case study towards implementation of collaborative water governance and management when the community of water users are considered were achieved by looking at both outward hindrances that exist outside the community itself, and inward capacities that exist through a collective institution (a lake association). Looking outwardly at both the existing incoherence in regulatory instruments, and the water multi-use contention and conflicts, impediments that exist at the initiation of collaborative efforts, and at the eventual implementation of governance and management regimes were revealed. Looking inwardly, the trust and reciprocity which developed due to consistent interactions formed the ‘within-group-capacity’ that is necessary to resolve water management problems at the lake level, and enhance decision-making abilities so as to influence water resource governance and management at LD. Study of these outward and inward conditions showed how to involve such users in regime implementation, an area of research that has received little attention, compared to studies that have mainly focused on who gets to be involved in such regimes. How to implement desired environmental outcomes from the sub-set of the community of water users of LD using a novel Bayesian model showed implementable eco-health approach for the management of a human health and well-being at a water resource level. Specifically, the Bayesian model established an example of a screening level tool to aid exposure-based decision making at LD. Finally, both the enriched IAD framework and the Bayesian modelling advanced the methodology and the interdisciplinarity by adding new descriptive, diagnostic, and reflective methods for conducting research in collaborative water governance and management. Future research recommendations include: an investigation into how to implement a collaboratively developed water use plans for multiple-use lakes while taking into account competing uses, climatic changes, and potential water scarcity; evaluating how a lake association as a collective institution for LD may function; and by refining the Bayesian model to incorporate even more diverse contextual data and advance the use of risk exposure analysis in applied research for lake water resources management. Research limitations, specifically the fact that First Nations communities within the LD region could not be engaged during the research process has been elaborated in chapter 5. Improvement of actionable ‘on the ground’ practice, are also listed in chapter 5.



Water governance, Water management.



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


School of Environment and Sustainability


Environment and Sustainability


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