PECS #15: Learning from water crises in South America with Mica Trimble

Similar to the whole world, South America faces numerous water-related crises and challenges (e.g. water quantity and quality scarcity) due to climate change, land use, governance systems, and other such factors. Based on the GovernAgua research project, this webinar focuses on adaptive water governance in contexts of crisis in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. The objective is to analyse the recent water crises affecting drinking water supply in three watersheds—turbidity in the Chubut river (Patagonia, Argentina) in 2017, drought in the Piracicaba-Capivari-Jundiaí river basins (São Paulo, Brazil) in 2014-2015, and algal blooms in the Laguna del Sauce lake (Maldonado, Uruguay) in 2015. The role of Basin committees (involving government and nongovernment actors) in their response to water crises is also analyzed. The methods used included semi-structured interviews, virtual workshops, participant observation, and document analysis. The findings show that the consequences of the crises were diverse, including enhanced communication among actors at multiple levels (Argentinian and Uruguayan cases), incorporation of climate components in the basin management plan (Brazilian case), and emergence of social mistrust regarding the quality of drinking water (Uruguayan case). In addition, limitations faced by Basin committees in addressing water-related crises were identified.

Micaela Trimble holds a Doctoral degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from the University of Manitoba (Canada). She was a postdoctoral fellow of the Centre for Marine Studies – Federal University of Parana (Brazil), and at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre – Brock University (Canada). She is currently an Associate at the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS), in Uruguay, where she is PI of two research projects on water governance. She is also a member of the National System of Researchers of Uruguay. Her areas of expertise include public participation, adaptive governance, and adaptive co-management of social-ecological systems, such as small-scale fisheries and watersheds.