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La surexploitation des eaux souterraines: enjeux et gouvernance

Olivier Petit ()

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Abstract: Groundwater resources have long been considered as inexhaustible ones. Far from constituting a generalized phenomenon, overexploitation of groundwater resources is observable in the semi-arid and arid climates areas, but also in the areas with temperate climates. In fact, since the end of the Second World War, the development of irrigation and the green revolutions have largely contributed to the crises of provisioning. In order to prevent overexploitation and conflicts between water users, two main solutions have been traditionally proposed: market or state regulation. Our analysis tries to go beyond this dichotomy between public intervention (regulation and taxes) and market-oriented approaches (implementation of groundwater markets). A more pragmatic look at reality shows that water markets are not as efficient as many authors claim, because market failures and transaction costs are inherent to the market allocation of groundwater resources.Moreover, state management of groundwater resources doesn't seem to be efficient, because of a lack of enforcement and of a clear definition of property rights. But empirical studies have shown that a shift has occurred in the allocation and management of groundwater resources. This shift shows the importance to take into account water resource users in the dynamics of collective action. Our analysis of the governance of groundwater resources identifies the existence of a compromise between the coordination of the individual actions (market-oriented approach) and the forms of collective action (collective action for public interest and collective action for community interest).

Keywords: groundwater resources; overexploitation; governance; water resources economics; surexploitation; eaux souterraines; gouvernance; économie des ressources en eau (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2004-06
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Published in Natures Sciences Sociétés, EDP Sciences, 2004, 12 (2), pp.146-156. ⟨10.1051/nss:2004020⟩

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DOI: 10.1051/nss:2004020

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