Bruce Lankford

Systems- & people-centred water and irrigation

Hydromentalities of water and irrigation infrastructure

‘Hydromentalities’ is the name I have given to fashions of irrigation and river basin technologies and infrastructure.

It seems clear to me that there are two key aspects in designing and installing river basin infrastructure.  The first is that different schools of thought dominate over time (e.g. small is beautiful, or that dams fall in and out of favour), and the second is that coherence between existing infrastructure and new installations is generally poorly considered.  In other words society does not assess and debate fully the architecture of river basin control technologies.  This subject area is important, in my view, for the manner in which existing architectures mediate water allocation between users and sectors during different times of the hydrological year and during water pulses such as after a significant rainfall event.

The publication on this is here:  Lankford B.A. 2013. Infrastructure hydromentalities; water sharing, water control and water (in)security. In, B.A. Lankford, K. Bakker, M. Zeitoun and D Conway (Eds) ‘Water security: Principles, perspectives and practices’. Earthscan Publications, London. Pp 256-272

The diagram below, taken from the above publication, shows how different schools of water control engineering compete for our attention in attempting to solve water scarcity and water distribution problems.  These schools are a part of the hydromentalities framework – but there are other elements as well such as the emphasis given to infrastructure mediated by investments in water sectors such as water and sanitation relative to other sectors (e.g. irrigation).