Water Without Borders? Canada, the United States & Shared Waters, edited by Emma S. Norman, Alice Cohen, and Karen Bakker, has just been published by the University of Toronto Press. I was honored to contribute a chapter to this excellent volume, “The Great Lakes: A Model of Transboundary Cooperation,” co-authored by Dr. Jamie Linton, a Canadian geographer and historian. The companion website provides an excellent overview of the book:
To that end, Part One provides an overview of issues impacting the health and sustainability of our shared waters. In this section, authors explore recent developments in transboundary water governance, including increased participation of First Nations and local actors in transboundary water governance, and the changing role of the International Joint Commission. The section also tackles the most controversial issues related to Canada-U.S. water — bulk water transfers — and provides a broad overview of key water management challenges currently facing Canada and the United States.
Part Two of the volume presents expert commentaries on key flashpoints along the border—transboundary waters which are sources of conflict. These flashpoints include: the negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty, water quality in the Flathead River Basin, flooding and water quality in the Devils Lake / Red River Basin, water allocation in the St. Mary and Milk Rivers, and invasive species and declining water quality in the Great Lakes Basin.
Each chapter in Part Two focuses on a single flashpoint, and has been jointly authored by experts from either side of the border. The Canadian and U.S. co-authors collaborated on the writing of each chapter, providing a nuanced perspective and a collaborative assessment of key issues and possible solutions for each flashpoint.
Particularly noteworthy is the fact that most chapters emphasize that solutions to transboundary water conflicts have taken the form of working around — rather than through — conventional institutions for transboundary water governance. The transboundary cooperation and collaboration that characterizes these chapters epitomizes, we feel, how shared governance can function effectively: through hard work, clear lines of communication, sustained contact, and mutual trust.
The book concludes by reflecting on the possibility of ‘borderless’ water in a world rife with both cultural and political borders.Table of Contents:
1. Introduction (Emma S. Norman, Alice Cohen, and Karen Bakker)
Part One: Issues, Approaches, and Challenges
2. Indigenous Peoples and Water: Governing Across Borders (Merrell-Ann S. Phare)
3. Rise of the Local? Delegation and Devolution in Transboundary Water Governance (Emma S. Norman and Karen Bakker)
4. The IJC and Transboundary Water Disputes: Past, Present, and Future (Murray Clamen)
5. Continental Bulk Water Transfers: Chimera or Real Possibility? (Frédéric Lasserre)
6. Key Issues in Canada-US Water Governance (Ralph Pentland)
Part Two: Flashpoints, Conflict, and Cooperation
7. The Columbia River Treaty (John Shurts and Richard Paisley)
8. Apportionment of the St. Mary and Milk River (Nigel Bankes and Elizabeth Bourget)
9. Devils Lake and Red River Basin (Norman Brandson and Robert Hearne)
10. Flathead Valley Flashpoint (Harvey Locke and Matthew McKinney)
11. The Great Lakes: A Model of Transboundary Cooperation (Jamie Linton and Noah Hall)
Looking Back, Looking Forward
12. Conclusion (Alice Cohen, Emma S. Norman, and Karen Bakke)
The book is complimented by valuable online resources, hosted by the University of British Columbia’s Program on Water Governance. The contributing authors provided policy briefs on five of the most visible flashpoints along the shared waters between Canada and the United States (the Columbia River Treaty, the Flathead River Basin, the St. Mary and Milk River, Devils Lake and the Red River Basin, and the Great Lakes Basin). There is also a database of Canada-United States transboundary governance mechanisms across North America at federal, state-provincial and local levels.
The Water Without Borders? Project was supported with funding from the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation. Thanks to the Gordon Foundation, more than 250 key policy makers in Canada and the United States will be receiving complementary copies of the book. And whether you buy it from Amazon or your local bookstore, all proceeds from the book will go to the US and Canadian branches of the Waterkeeper Alliance.