More Land for Water

The study group is focused on social hydro-dynamics, which includes the whole spectrum of social interactions concerning water governance, use and wider symbolism. It is a socio-territorial topic involving also urban areas. But, the rural perspective has a distinctive significance because new and sustainable hydro-uses involve giving more land for water, land that is typically available only in the countryside. In addition to raising issues of territorial justice, new pressures are created on farmland, especially those located around conurbations.
Modern water depuration systems recommend plant-based sewage-treatment facilities and lands for sludge dispersion. Increased events of heavy rainfall and drought create requirements for water storage, both for irrigation and absorbing flood peaks. Water detention basins are important for increasing biodiversity, reducing nitrates leakages and keeping drinkable water reserves. More nuanced examples are revealed by different contexts EU-wide.
Such hydro-dynamic issues are characterised as environmental, but their solutions are in broad terms social. Solutions include socio-technical paths, redistributive measures promoted by governments, and reciprocity in ecosystem services remuneration. Specifically, new urban-rural arrangements, group intermediations, changes in societal recognition of ‘kinds’ of water (e.g. marshes). Rural populations’ discontent can be provoked by perceived territorial injustices and difficulties experienced in the regulation of water flows. Conflicts regarding use of water are internal to the countryside and occur
between urban and rural areas.
This working group has two aims: 1) to create a junction point for scholars of rural issues keeping a very broad reference to social hydro-dynamics. Then, not only the irrigation problem, but also multidimensional uses and symbolisation of water in Europe; 2) to focus on various forms of detention basin seen as a concrete, measurable, and representative object of mediation for different, often conflicting uses of water. The objective is to identify a case study for each European country.

Coordinator: Giorgio Osti, University of Trieste, Italy, giorgio.osti@dispes.units.it