Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database | Publications

Fesler, Kristel. 2007. An Analysis of Water Resource Conflict and Cooperation in Oregon
between 1990 and 2004.
[PDF file]

This research provides details of water resource conflict and cooperation in Oregon between 1990 and 2004 by using an event database methodology. Events were concentrated in four of 18 basins. No basin accounted for more that 25% of the total water rights events, the most evenly distributed issue type. Overall more events were cooperative and very few were of high intensity. High intensity conflict covered one issue type- instream, while cooperative covered five supporting results seen at international scale. The occurrence of water quality events increases as the scale decreases. Spatial and temporal analysis indicate that surface water supply correlates to overall conflict and cooperation levels better than population density, consumptive use and water quality. However, major conflictive outbreaks or cooperative breakthroughs are correlated to institutional changes in the social system (cooperation in 1991, 1999, and 2004; conflict in 1991, 2001, and 2004), acting as either an instigator or resolution of resource conflict. Water resource conflict was shown to intensify over time, and major conflictive events tend to lead to major cooperative events. Additionally, this process is unique to conflict; cooperative processes are not easily undermined by a conflictive action. Finally, policy recommendations are presented to increase water resource manager’s ability to foster dispute resolution and to engage key stakeholders. Implementation of these techniques should provide water resource managers with the necessary tools to manage conflict, not make it disappear entirely.