Society & Natural Resources
Under what conditions are irrigators able to develop adaptive governance arrangements? This article addresses this question by developing an empirically grounded theory of self-governance of a snowmelt commons in southern Colorado. Drawing on previous work in collective action and institutional theory, we argue that self-regulation of the hydro-commons is driven by changes in shared user perceptions with regard to the salience and scarcity of the resource, as well as the perceived probability of salvaging the resource system. We further posit that several conditioning factors affect the likelihood of effective local responses, including the existing institutional arrangements for self-governance, techno-institutional complementarities, and vested interests. We test and refine our theoretical argument by conducting a historical analysis of regional responses to hydrologic, social, and institutional disturbances in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.
Cody, Kelsey C.; Smith, Steven M.; Cox, Michael; and Andersson, Krister, "Emergence of Collective Action in a Groundwater Commons: Irrigators in the San Luis Valley of Colorado" (2015). Environmental Studies Graduate Contributions. 4.