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Making the Most of the Water We Have: The Soft Path Approach to Water Management

Edited By: David B Brooks, Oliver M Brandes and Stephen Gurman

288 pages, illustrations, index


Paperback | Jan 2011 | #188462 | ISBN-13: 9781849713085
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £32.99 $43/€37 approx
Hardback | Jul 2009 | #179706 | ISBN-13: 9781844077540
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £52.99 $69/€60 approx

About this book

In the last century water policies relied on the construction of massive infrastructure in the form of dams, pipelines, and complex centralized treatment plants to meet human demands. These facilities brought tremendous benefits, but they also had serious and often unanticipated social, economic and environmental costs.

Demand for water is one of the major challenges of the current century, but past approaches are no longer sufficient. Based on the 'soft path' approach to the energy sector, a transition is now under way to a soft path for water. This approach starts by ensuring that ecosystem needs for water are satisfied and then undertakes a radical approach to reducing human uses of water by economic and social incentives, including open decision-making, water markets and equitable pricing, and the application of super-efficient technology, all applied in ways that avoid jeopardizing quality of life. The soft path for water is therefore a management strategy that frees up water by curbing water waste.

This book is the first to present and apply the water soft path approach. It has three aims: to bring to a wider audience the concept and the potential of water soft paths; to demonstrate that soft path analysis is analytical and practical, and not just 'eco-dreaming'; and to indicate that soft paths are not only conceptually attractive but that they can be made economically and politically feasible. This title includes a tool kit for planners and other practitioners.

'This book looks ahead to provide the context within which to consider our use and management of water as we enter an increasingly uncertain future.' Dr. David Suzuki, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia, author, broadcaster 'The book provides a timely review of how political economies worldwide have been introducing soft path approaches. It is immensely strengthened by authors who introduced the idea to the water sector and diffused it among water scientists, engineers and planners.' From the Foreword by Professor J A [Tony] Allan, King's College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK 'It is the first book to present a comprehensive view of the soft path and focuses on water solutions, not just technologies but also analysis methods and governance. The importance of this book is its vision and attempt to persuade readers - stakeholders, educators, the media, NGOs, and water managers - to adhere to the soft path paradigm.' Water International 'Making the Most of the Water We Have lays out the key ingredients of a water soft path (WSP) in plain language. It makes its case with some really fine writing, especially in the first four chapters...The real achievement of this book is that it offers details regarding soft path water planning possibilities for rich nations and poor nations alike.' Robert Paehlke, Critical Policy Studies


Foreword by Tony Allan

1. Why a Water Soft Path, and Why Now

Part I: Water Soft Paths as Ecological Vision
2. Avoiding the Perfect Storm - Weathering Climate Change by Following Water Resources
3. In the Beginning: Soft Energy Paths
4. Misconceiving the Soft Path
Getting It Right: Misconceptions about the Soft Path
5. Practicing Ecological Governance: The Case for Water Soft Paths
6. Changing Water Policy in Canada: The Soft Path Approach

Part II: Water Soft Paths as Analytical Method
7. Getting Quantitative: The Canadian Water Soft Path Study
8. Turning Principles into Practice: The WSP Scenario Builder
9. WSP Analysis at an Urban Scale
10. WSP Analysis at a Watershed Scale
11. WSP Analysis at a Provincial Scale

Part III: Planning for Water Soft Paths
12. Removing Institutional Barriers: Challenges and Opportunities
13. Shifting Water Soft Paths Philosophy toward Hard Policy in Municipal Water Management
14. Green Buildings and Urban Space
15. Water Soft Path Thinking in the United States
16. Water Soft Path Thinking in Other Developed Economies
Editor's Note
A: England
B: The European Union
C: Australia

17. Water Soft Path Thinking in Developing Countries
Editor's Note
A: South Africa
B: India -
C: Middle East and North Africa

18. A Water Future Different from the Past

Annex A: Contributors to the Book
Annex B: How to Create a Soft Path Plan for Water

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David B. Brooks has worked for NGOs in Canada, Energy Probe, Friends of the Earth, and for IDRC on water and natural resource management. Oliver Brandes is Associate Director at the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, University of Victoria, Canada. Stephen Gurman is an environmental consultant and writer.

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