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TRANSBOUNDARY WATER JUSTICE IN THE COLORADO RIVER
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Justice theories and perspectives are seldom included in transboundary water governance research. This research analyzes stakeholders’ justice perspective and goals of in the Colorado River Basin over salinity governance using the Transboundary Water Justice Framework. The framework elevates narratives of justice in broader transboundary discussion by addressing unfair international transboundary negotiations and governance arrangements and focusing on the perspective of actors and their capacity to shape the processes that lead to the transboundary arrangement. The Colorado River Basin has naturally high levels of salt in its water which is further enhanced by agricultural return flows and energy development. High levels of salinity impact agricultural lands, damages water supplies, and causes millions in economic damages; it is a major concern at the international, national and local scales. Salinity governance is the process of removing, regulating, and managing salinity in a river basin. The Transboundary Water Justice Framework is applied on the Colorado River Basin and includes the U.S.-Mexican border and U.S. state borders. I systematically review news sources from Lexis Nexis, and state and federal legal cases and regulations from Westlaw. A keyword catalogue was created with relevant justifications using the Transboundary Water Justice framework and then coded into the MAXQDA program. A content analysis was performed on an international, national and local scale, investigating stakeholder claims and statements through news sources, legal cases, testimonies, regulations and policy. Results indicate the U.S. federal government negotiated technical and infrastructural solutions to resolve the international salinity crisis to avoid basin politics over water allocation rights. These conditions and demands ultimately shaped the basis of the negotiation and the efficacy of salinity control and management on a national level and at the local level. It is not an example of good transboundary water governance since there is an effective basin hegemon and evidence of procedural injustice through the lack of distribution in benefits, inclusion of stakeholders, and the antiquated tenets of the “Law of the River”. There can be instances of transboundary injustice within a basin hegemon’s sub basin which may impact into broader transboundary issues.
Truong, Uyen H (2019). TRANSBOUNDARY WATER JUSTICE IN THE COLORADO RIVER. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from