Irrigation futures - Role of community participation and partnerships


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Role of community participation and partnerships: the Virginia pipeline scheme

This article was written by Ganesh Keremane and Jennifer McKay. It was published in the AWA Water Journal in November 2006.

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Irrigation futures - Role of community participation and partnerships

  1. 1. technical featuresrecycling: community consultation ROLE OF COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND PARTNERSHIPS: THE VIRGINIA PIPELINE SCHEME G B Keremane, J McKayAbstractThe Virginia Pipeline Scheme in Adelaide isone of the largest high quality waterrecycling schemes in the world and the firstof its type in Australia. This paper focuseson this scheme and illustrates the role ofcommunity participation and partnershipsin successful implementation of the scheme.It also looks at the role of the initialdevelopers and the factors, which createdthis public partnership, and the currentperceptions of the present day users of thescheme.IntroductionIn a situation where competition for highquality freshwater is manifold, reclaimedwater is increasingly being recognised as a Figure 1. Layout of the Virginia Pipeline Scheme and its distribution and reliable water source, withoutcompromising public health. Nevertheless,while developing successful and sustainable the decline of water levels in the aquifers of Since then, the VPS has provided reclaimedwastewater irrigation schemes, water the northern Adelaide plains. Each year water for irrigation in the Northernmanagers, planners, and policymakers often groundwater resources provides about 14- Adelaide plains, some 35 kms north ofencounter difficulties, particularly 18 GL of water for irrigation in the Virginia Adelaide. It supplies highly treatedmanagement problems. region which is beyond the sustainable reclaimed water to approximately 250 limits of supply (Kracman et al. 2001; growers operating within an area of 200Management problems arise due to Pritchard and Richardson, 2005). In order square kilometres.coordination complexity resulting from to supplement the declining groundwatervarying roles and responsibilities and The proposal for developing the VPS was supplies, prior to the Virginia Pipelineoverlapping concerns among the public visualised when SA Water, as part of its Scheme, many growers used Class ‘C’agencies managing the resources reclaimed water to irrigate their crops by Environment Improvement Program,(MacDonald and Dyack 2004). Similarly, pumping from the Bolivar wastewater constructed a $30 millionwastewater collection, treatment, and its treatment plant out-fall channel. Growers filtration/disinfection plant (DAFF) to treatusage span a wide range of interests at were thus aware of the potential this new effluent from the Bolivar wastewaterdifferent levels of administration. source had to offer towards meeting the treatment plant, producing Class ATherefore, the success and long-term growing demand for water supplies. reclaimed water that could be used forsustainability of any reuse scheme largely This realisation by the growers and driven irrigation in the region. The Waterdepends on the institutional organisation,enhanced community participation, and Reticulation Services Virginia (WRSV), awell-designed partnerships. Enhanced community private company, gained a contract to access the output from the treatment plant, andThe paper illustrates the role of community participation and well-participation and partnerships in developing further signed up clients for the water anda successful and sustainable reuse scheme. It designed partnerships built the water distribution system. Thus,also looks at the factors that created this VPS is a co-operative undertaking of SApartnership, and the perceptions of the led to success. Water, Water Reticulation Systems Virginiapresent day users of reclaimed water in the (WRSV) - a private company and theVirginia Irrigation Area, South Australia. by the environmental, economic and social Virginia Irrigation Association (VIA) - factors has led to the commissioning of the representing market gardeners and otherBackground Virginia Pipeline Scheme (VPS) in 1999 irrigators. Figure 1 provides the schematicOveruse of the groundwater resources to (Kelly and Stevens, 2000; Thomas 2006). layout of the VPS and its distributionirrigate the horticultural crops resulted in network.29 NOVEMBER 2006 Journal of the Australian Water Association
  2. 2. technical featuresrecycling: community consultationThe Study Table 1. Distribution of the respondents across different ethnic groups.The design adopted for this study was ‘Case Group Total number of farms visited Total RespondentsStudy’, a research strategy that focuses onunderstanding the dynamics present within Non-English speaking 120 91single settings (Eisenhardt, 1989). English speaking 45 37Household interviews were conducted to Total 165 (65) 128 (51)gather information and key informant Note: Figures in parentheses are percentages of the total number (252) of irrigators using reclaimed water.interviews augmented the information.Structured questionnaires were used for thehousehold interviews using a mix of collective efforts and partnerships. So, what Around seven per cent believed thatquestion types: multiple choices, numeric factors prompted the partnerships or community interest to use reclaimed wateropen end, and agreement scales. motivated the growers for collective action? for irrigation was the important reason. Generally, whenever individuals face About six per cent rated encouragement byAn initial exploration survey revealed that problems unsolvable on their own they tend water authorities as the important reason.the irrigators associated with VPS to come together to find solutions. This However, these are only the irrigators’comprised Greek, Italian, Australian, means, when there is a widely perception. Apart from the factors perceivedVietnamese, and Cambodian communities. acknowledged crisis i.e. a crisis that by the respondents, increasing publicIn order to interview irrigators with non- multiple groups acknowledge as affecting concerns about the environmental damagesEnglish speaking background, interpreters their core interests; collective action is caused by discharge of highly nutrient richwere recruited on the bases of command possible (OECD, 2003). Collective action effluents into the ocean accompanied byover Vietnamese, Khmer and English therefore becomes an immediate necessity some government initiatives such aslanguage, as well as relevant knowledge of rather than a choice. According to Wade Building Better Cities were alsothe survey methods and study theme. In (1979), “where water is problematic for instrumental.addition, the questionnaire was translatedfrom English into Vietnamese and Khmer virtually all irrigators, the irrigators tend to The theory of collective actionby professional translators to facilitate the form a corporate body to deal with Collective action is mostly discussed ininterview process and in some cases, allow common irrigation and cultivation relation to the ‘tragedy of the commons’the respondents to mark the document on problems. The individual not only gets an (Hardin,1968) and much of the world istheir own. identity but also security in the process of dependent upon resources that are subjectWhen the WRSV was approached for the collective action”. That was the case with to the possibility of a tragedy of thelist of irrigators associated with the VPS, it the inception of VPS where people commons (Ostrom 1992). Although,was difficult to obtain the list because of organised collectively in order to find overcoming the tragedy of the commons issome formal obligations of the water solution to the water scarcity crisis in the not an easy task, there is a growingcompany. Therefore, a snowball sampling region caused by depleting groundwater consensus among commons scholars thattechnique was employed to identify the resources (Kracman, 2001; Thomas, 2006). collective, community–based regulationrespondents who were using reclaimed Respondents were asked to mention the holds out the best prospects for efficientwater from the scheme. In total 165 farms most important reason that prompted management of resources (Ostrom 2000).were visited out of which 128 irrigators development of the Virginia pipeline. The concept of collective action has,responded. This accounted for around 51 Figure 2 illustrates their responses. therefore, emerged as a response to dealper cent of the total number of irrigators Around 53 per cent of the respondents with the tragedy of the commons.associated with VPS (Table 1). Those not reported groundwater depletion as the most The phrase ‘collective action’ refers toresponding were either not interested in the important reason followed by 32 per cent activities that require the coordination ofstudy or not available during the repeated quoting the price of the mains water. efforts by two or more individuals (Agarwalvisits made to their farms. Simple tabularanalysis with aid of frequencies andpercentages was used to arrive at the results.Results and DiscussionAccording to Agarwal and Ostrom (1999),through collective action, enhancedcommunity participation, and well-designed partnerships, it is possible tocoordinate individual’s activities; developrules for resource use; sanction violators andmobilise the necessary cash, labour, ormaterial resources. This study attempts tocapture the perceptions of present dayusers’ about community participation,collective action and partnerships alongwith the factors responsible forimplementing the VPS.Factors prompting implementation of theschemeAs mentioned earlier, VPS is the result of Figure 2. Irrigators’ perception of reasons prompting development of the VPS.
  3. 3. technical featuresrecycling: community consultationand Ostrom 1999). Individuals associatethemselves for a collective action with an Table 2. Irrigators’ perception about collective action and cooperation.objective to face the uncertainties and to Statements Agree Neutral Disagreesearch for solutions wherever possible. Thecommons literature has ample evidences of People in the community will cooperate when there is water supply problem 75 (59) 18 (14) 35 (27)collective regulation for natural resourcesmanagement (White and Runge 1995; Lam Most people in the community are willing to help when in need 101 (79) 23 (18) 4 (3)1996; Ostrom 1992; 2000). This community has prospered in the last five years 97 (76) 28 (22) 3 (2)The study used 11-point Likert scale itemsas a measure of collective action and I feel accepted as a member of this community 99 (77) 26 (20) 3 (2)cooperation within the community. To Note: Figures in parentheses are percentage of the total sample (N=128).assess the irrigators’ perception regardingcollective action and also participation, community, almost 60 per cent agreed with 2005). This also demonstrates a high levelrespondents were asked to agree or disagree the proposition. When asked whether of trust among the members of thewith the scale items and the results are people who do not participate in communal community.presented in Table 2 and Table 3. activities are criticised, more than 60 per Further, since different agencies areMore than 75 per cent of the respondents cent disagreed with the proposition. About involved in the functioning of the VPS,agreed that ‘most people in the community making fair contribution towards trust in these agencies also plays anare willing to help when in need’. When communal activities around 42 per cent of important role in deciding aboutasked about their perception on community the respondents thought that everyone in participation in the scheme. Respondentsprosperity over the last five years, around the community makes a fair contribution. were asked about their level of trust in the76 per cent believed that the community The term ‘contribution’ here meant agencies- government, EPA, health serviceshas prospered because of cooperation contributing in terms of money or kind. and the water company. Figure 3 depictsamong the community members. Keeping Almost an equal percentage of respondents the level of trust irrigators have in variousin mind the variations in cultural remained neutral. Around 75 per cent of agencies.background and ethnicities, the the respondents agreed that the community Irrigators had either complete trust or somerespondents were asked if they felt accepted has prospered in the last five years. level of trust in these agencies to performas a member of one community. More than Chi-square (χ2) estimates were calculated to their duties effectively. Around 58 per cent70 per cent agreed that they felt accepted. test whether irrigators’ perception about of the respondents had complete trust inIt was observed during the survey that most collective action and participation varied the government agencies while another 16of the respondents were engaged in farming with age, education level, or ethnicity. The per cent had some level of trust. Regardingin Virginia for more than 10 years without estimates were not significant affirming that the water company, more than 55 per centany problems. This supports the perception irrigators’ perception was similar across had complete trust while around 26 perof irrigators’ that they felt accepted by the different age group, education level, and cent more had some level of trust. Aboutcommunity. When specifically asked about ethnicity. trust in other associated agencies like thecooperating during a water crisis, about 59 Trust and solidarity EPA and the Health department, moreper cent agreed that people cooperate in than 40 per cent had complete trust.such situations. A considerable percentage It is evident from the success of the scheme However, percentage of respondents whoof people remained neutral (marked five on that despite different ethnicity and cultural were indifferent is considerable, particularlythe scale) in response to this proposition. backgrounds the irrigators have with respect to EPA and Department ofAs observed during the survey, one possible demonstrated a high degree of networking. Health. This may be due the lack ofreason for this could be that most Absence of this would have raised awareness among the irrigators regardingrespondents were new to the scheme. problems. This is in contrast to the the role of these agencies in relation to theOverall, the responses and observations argument regarding collective action that scheme.made during the survey imply that the division of irrigators by cultural and/orcommunity has a strong sense of other social differences affects their capacity The chi-square estimates for age groupcooperation and is community orientated. to communicate with one another (Tang, (χ2=18.11) and ethnicity (χ2=41.78) in case 1992). Therefore, the findings of this study of trust in water company were significantMere presence of a crisis does not always while contradicting previous studies suggest implying that irrigators’ with Englishbring out collective action, participation of that relatively heterogeneous community speaking background and in the young andall the actors involved is equally important. groups can be effective at provision of middle age groups had more trust. SimilarParticipation is a broad term with many irrigation services (Kurian and Dietz, results were obtained in case of trust in thevariations in its meaning and interpretation.However, in its narrowest sense,participation can be defined in terms ofnominal membership, while in the broadest Table 3. Irrigators’ perception about statements regarding participation.sense it can be defined as a process in which Statements Agree Neutral Disagreepeople voice and influence in decision-making (White 1996). Here, the focus is I have worked with others in the past for the benefit of‘community participation’ and to examine the community 76 (59) 40 (31) 12 (9)the extent of community participation the Most likely, the people who do not participate instudy proposed three statements to the communal activities are criticised. 14 (11) 34 (27) 80 (63)irrigators (Table 3). Everyone in the community makes a fair contribution to communal activities 54 (42) 53 (41) 21 (16) Respondents, when asked if they workedwith others for the benefit of the Note: Figures in parentheses are percentage of the total sample (N=128)31 NOVEMBER 2006 Journal of the Australian Water Association
  4. 4. technical featuresrecycling: community consultationhealth department where the estimates forage (χ2=23.82) and ethnic groups(χ2=71.32) were significant, implyingEnglish speaking background and young -middle age groups had more trust in thehealth department.PartnershipsApart from collective action andcommunity participation, ‘well designedpublic-private partnerships’ is also a factorresponsible for the success andsustainability of VPS.In the context of water sector, public-private partnerships refer to ‘public entityentering into a contractual agreement withthe private sector to take over some or allof its activities related to watermanagement’ (OECD 2003). Generally,public-private partnerships (PPPs)promoted within the water sector areconcession-based contracts in which a Figure 3. Irrigator’s level of trust in different agencies associated with the scheme.private firm obtains from the governmentthe right to provide a particular serviceunder conditions of significant market implementation of any reclaimed water to SA Water in 2018 as per the terms ofpower (Kerf et al. 1995 cited in Braadbaart irrigation schemes. Acquiring funds is agreement (Menzies, 2001).2005). Such contracts come in three another important obstacle since financing In the present case, Government agenciesfamilies namely: franchise contracts, a reuse scheme is normally a complex task. contributed nearly half the capital funds.concession contracts and the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contracts (Braadbaart, Legal and policy issues were addressed The total cost of the project ($55million),2005). The Virginia pipeline is built on the effectively because South Australia has a including the DAFF Plant and theBOT model. favourable regulatory and policy regime for reticulation system, was shared between the wastewater reuse. The government policy Commonwealth Government ($10.8Under the BOT form of partnership, ‘to phase out all sewerage discharges to thecapital investment, designing, building and million), which contributed from the marine environment where it isoperating the scheme is the responsibility Building Better Cities funds, Landcare economically and environmentallyof the private sector while the responsibility ($574,000), private investors ($7 million), sustainable’ has significantly influenced theof setting performance standards, asset SA government ($7 million), Horticulture development of water reuse programs inownership, user fee collection, and Australia Limited ($ 700,000) and the South Australia (Thiyagarajah 2005). Theoversight of performance and fees rests with remainder from SA Water. Regarding the inclusion of reclaimed water in the Souththe public agencies. This means, “in a BOT social issues, which is mostly addressing the Australian Government’s State Water Planproject, a private company is given community concerns about using reclaimed 2000 demonstrates the State’s commitmentconcession to build and operate a facility water the VPS has clear and effective water to wastewater reuse projects. Above all, thethat would normally be built and operated state has several regulatory controls that management plans. An Irrigationby the government” (UNIDO, 1996 cited need to be complied with before Management Plan (IMP) is developed byin Braadbaart 2005). In the present case, implementation of the scheme like the WRSV to ensure that the irrigation ofSA water (public agency) is responsible for comprehensive reclaimed water guidelines; the agricultural land is sustainable. Thesetting performance standards, asset Water Resources Act; approval of the Public Environment Protection Agency (EPA) isownership, user fee collection and, and Environmental Health Service, and responsible for approving and reviewing theoversight of performance and fees. The approval of Environment Protection IMPs on an annual basis and ensuring thatWRSV (private company) is responsible for Authority (EPA). it complies with all the environmentalcapital investment, designing and buildingand operating the scheme. However, it had The remaining financial, institutional and legislations. The irrigation associationsome financial assistance from the SA water social issues were addressed through (VIA) representing theand Federal government funds from the contractual agreements between the community/irrigators manages anBuild Better Cities Program. stakeholders – SA Water, VIA, and the education programme for growers in WRSV. As a part of the contractualImpediments encountering relation to water reuse. This programme agreement, SA water constructed the DAFFimplementation of reuse scheme water treatment plant. The WRSV built aims to educate the irrigators about theSuccessful development of reuse schemes the distribution system and delivers water impact of the enhanced nutrient levels onalways encounters various impediments. to dams on individual growers’ properties, soils and natural groundwater by use ofMost of these are due to lack of from which they pump the water into their reclaimed water. It also closely monitorsinstitutional organisation and community own irrigation systems. The supply the effects of the reclaimed water on thereluctance to use this resource. Legal, contracts with the irrigators are with the soils. To inform the public, all propertiespolicy, institutional and social impediments water company who owns the scheme at using reclaimed water have signs on fencingoccupy a prominent place during the present and will transfer the whole scheme reading ‘Reclaimed water – do not drink’. Journal of the Australian Water Association NOVEMBER 2006 32
  5. 5. technical featuresrecycling: community consultationConclusions Kelly, J. and Stevens, D. (2000) From problem to profit. Water, 27 (5):39-41.Development of successful and sustainable Kracman, B., Martin, R., and Sztajnbok, P.water reuse projects will definitely provide (2001) The Virginia Pipeline: Australia’ssolutions to water scarcity problems. largest water recycling project. Water ScienceHowever, we cannot overlook the and Technology, 43(1): 35-42.impediments encountering implementation Kurian, M. and Dietz, T. (2005) How pro-poor are participatory watershed managementof any reuse scheme. Experiences from the projects? – An Indian case study, ResearchVPS suggest that community participation, Report 92. International Water Managementwell-designed partnerships, and favourable Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka.regulatory and policy regime are very much Lam, W. (1996) ‘Improving the performance ofimportant in implementing a successful and small-scale irrigation systems: the effects ofsustainable reuse scheme. Further, by technological investments and governance structure on irrigation performance in Nepal’.providing knowledge and information on World Development, 24 (8): 1301-1315.the current best practices and MacDonald, D. H. and Dyack, B. (2004)communicating this information in a form Exploring the institutional impediments tothat is understandable to the different conservation and water reuse –Nationalstakeholder groups, it is possible to issues. CSIRO Land and Water Clientimplement sustainable reuse schemes. Report. Menzies, Tom (2001) The $ 52 m model. TheAcknowledgments Source, April 2001, Issue 13, pp.9. Organization for Economic Co-operation andThe authors express their gratitude towards Development (2003) Public-Privatethe University of South Australia and CRC Partnerships in the Urban Water Sector.for Irrigation Futures (CRC IF) for OECD Policy Brief, April 2003.supporting this work. The authors thank Ostrom, E. (1992). Crafting institutions for self-Bui, Huynh Thanh Nguyen; Le, Thi Thanh governing irrigation systems. ICS press. San Francisco, CA.Tra; Nguyen, Van Tuong; Pham, Thu Van Ostrom, E. (2000) Reformulating the commons.and Chy, Ty for their help in translation Swiss Political Science Review, 6 (1), pp. 29-and conducting the survey. The authors 52.thank Satya G. N. for helping create themap and finally the participants for their Pritchard J. and Richardson S. (2005) Northern Adelaide Plains: Analysis of trends in the Editorial Submissions -time and cooperation. groundwater conditions. Research and Technical Papers Environment Management Pty Ltd for North Water journal welcomes the submission ofThe Authors Adelaide and Barossa Catchment Water Management Board, Kent Town, South papers equivalent to 3,000-4,000 wordsGanesh B. Keremane is a PhD student at Australia. (allowing for graphics) relating to all areas ofthe University of South Australia. He is a Tang, S. Y. (1992) Institutions and Collective the water cycle and water business to bePresident’s Scholarship holder and CRC for Action: Self-Governance in Irrigation, San published in the journal. Topical stories of upIrrigation Futures Scholar and this paper is Francisco, ICS press. to 2,000 words may also be accepted.based on his PhD research work. Email: Thiyagarajah, R. A. (2005) Sustainable All submissions of papers intended for the Jennifer wastewater reuse through private sector participation - The Adelaide experience body of the journal should be emailed to theMcKay is Professor of Business Law and [online]. ADB. http:// Technical Editor, of the Centre for Comparative Documents/Events/2005/ and (EditorialWater Policies and Laws, University of Sanitation-Wastewater-Management/ Express). Shorter news items should be emailedSouth Australia. Email: paper-thiyagarajah.pdf [accessed 28 March to A submitted paper will 2006] tabled at a monthly Journal Committee Thomas, R. (2006) Reuse in South Australia in meeting where, if appropriate, it will beReferences Daryl Stevens (Ed) Growing crops with assigned to referees. Their comments will be reclaimed wastewater, CSIRO Publishing,Agarwal, A. and Ostrom, E (1999) Collective Victoria, Australia. passed back to the principal author. If accepted action, property rights, and devolution of and after any comments have been dealt with, forest and protected area management. Paper Wade, H. R. (1979) The Social Response to Irrigation: an Indian Case Study. Journal of the final paper can be emailed with the text in presented at Workshop on Collective Action, Development Studies, 16(1): 3-26. MS Word but with high resolution graphics Property Rights, and Devolution of Natural Resources Management, Puerto Azul, the White, A., T and Runge, F. C. (1995) The (300 dpi tiff, jpg or eps files) as separate files. Philippines, 21-25 June. Emergence and Evolution of Collective Authors should be mindful that Water JournalBraadbaart, O. (2005) Privatizing water and Action: Lessons from Watershed is published in a 3 column ‘magazine’ format wastewater in developing countries: assessing Management in Haiti. World Development, 23(10): 1683-1698. rather than the full-page format of Word the 1990s, experiments. Water Policy, 7: 329- documents. Graphics should be set up so that 344. White, S (1996) Depoliticizing development: The uses and abuses of participation. they will still be clearly legible when reduced toEisenhardt, K. M. (1989) Building theories from two-column size (about 12cm wide). Tables case study research. The Academy of Development in Practice, 6(1): 6-15. Management Review, 14(4):532-550. and figures need to be numbered with theHamilton, A. J., and et al. (2005) Position of the appropriate reference in the text e.g. see Figure Australian Horticultural Industry with 1, not just placed in the text with a (see below) Respect to the Use of Reclaimed Water, reference as they may end up anywhere on the Agricultural Water Management 71(3):181- page when typeset. 209. See index page 2 for more details on this andHardin, G. (1968) The Tragedy of the other editorial submissions. Commons. Science, 162: 1243-1248.33 NOVEMBER 2006 Journal of the Australian Water Association