Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Johnson_Territory 1_Hydropolitics | Riparian Water Rights

Territory: The Jordan River

When the physical border itself is a resource, tensions quickly escalate over control

More than 260 of the world’s river basins are international in scope

Potable water is among the world’s most valued resources, and it is necessary not only for life, but also for nearly every industry. 1.1 billion people do not have adequate access to safe water. In addition, many populations do not have direct control over their fresh water source, leading to tension and territory disputes. For example, the Tibetan Plateau is the source of a watershed that serves nearly a quarter of the world’s population; this region and others, like the middle east and northern Africa have many disputes over territory control.

Actors: All types of actors: nations, communities, regions, states, corporations, and individuals. In this case, mainly Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, & Syria.

Legal Instruments: There are almost no international laws governing water use, and so water laws typically take the form of a “transboundary water treaty.” When international bodies are involved, they are the UN and the World Bank. In this case, the ONLY treaty is the 1994 Peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Israel agreed to give Jordan 50,000,000 cubic metres of water each year and for Jordan to own 75% of the water from the Yarmouk River. Both countries could develop other water resources and reservoirs and agreed to help each other survive droughts.

Complications: Israel only has formal agreements with two Arab countries; Egypt and Jordan. Water is a major contributor to middle east conflict between these nations.

Case Studies, Possibilities for intervention:
A water resource across the Jordan- shared by both Israel and Jordan.
Hydroelectric Power Station on the Iller River, Kempten, Germany, Becker Architects

Sources: “Analysis: Middle East water wars” BBC.com: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2949768.stm “International Cooperation” http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Hy-La/International-Cooperation.html

1 comment:

  1. Both of your territories center on water, as such I’ll respond to both here.

    I think it’s pretty interesting to take a politically heated territory and focus on the disputes over a natural resource. It would seem that people could separate ideological positions from ones of basic survival, but alas it appears we have not become that civilized and therein lies a potential discussion on the role that architecture could take. But what can architecture “do” really in this capacity?

    You describe a potential project for a shared water resource or an infrastructural project that could, I suppose, serve to facilitate a sharing of the resource as it is mandated through formal and informal agreements. This project could be a didactic presentation of the issues at hand or could (through a narrative approach?) attempt to mediate projected future tensions/disputes. There are many possibilities here, but the real question is what does an architect have to offer in an infrastructural project beyond the efficient distribution of resources? Maybe I’m going against some of the current trends, but I think architects need to be less informed as to the complex infrastructural processes – this is the job of the engineer – and more responsible for the rhetoric that surrounds these disputes. Or, to put it another way, I believe we are responsible for how these disputes get presented and consumed by a receiving “public.” So, my question for you is what are the issues that you want to address with the project – what will you say with the work? You could look at the relationship between two (hostile) bodies as needing repair or as presenting a moment of respite or as having a shared-but-equal stance or even choosing a “right” side… whatever you decide, your stance, I believe will have to contend with a message about the subject between the multiple actors (of which you are one.)

    Some advice – you might benefit from looking at more mundane, “everyday” uses of the water. The social/cultural (re: ritualized, recreational, or pragmatic) uses may make for interesting programmatic charges here. Also, you could consider the river boundary between the US and Mexico – the Rio Grande – because it holds (like your examples) a charged political situation, possibility for infrastructural investigations, but likely offers you more chance for research and even visitation (!!) In addition, it gives you chance to comment on your own government, your own people. Yes, the distance is less (literally and metaphorically) but this can be overcome… what do you think? (I’ll bring in some student projects to show you on Wednesday from my Rio Grande studio…)