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Water Justice Lab Vision

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

Research Statement: I am building a Water In/justice Detection System. To determine where water in/justice currently exists, we are looking for four indicators of water security: safety, affordability, reliability, and availability (SARA). Safety refers to water quality concerns. Affordability refers to concerns about prices and costs. Reliability refers to delivery and infrastructure. Availability refers to precipitation regimes and storage. To identify enablers and barriers to justice, we start by locating evidence for the following three types of justice: distributive, procedural, and recognition. Distributive refers to disproportionate privileges or burdens placed on certain individuals or communities based on historical and legacy exclusion of race, ethnicity, nationality, class, gender dis/ability, sexual orientation and other social categories. Procedural justice refers to involvement in the processes and/or decision-making on considerations that affect stakeholders. Recognition justice refers to shifts in leadership that are anti-racist and decolonizing, the acknowledgment of the historical underpinnings of current situations, and ensure those indispensable to leadership are empowered to lead. The Water In/Justice Detection System requires quantitative, qualitative, and spatial analyses that respect sovereignty, engage community, reciprocate gifts of information, meet qualitative evaluative criteria of authenticity and trustworthiness, and meet criteria of reliability and validity. We are currently creating three main databases to support our inquiry: media text of water-related events over five years, hydrogeographically distinct assessments of human water values, and a curation of SARA-related datasets. Research questions include: What water injustices are occurring and where? What are factors that enable or hinder water justice (e.g., collaborative governance, charismatic leaders, community sentiment, water security, political will, etc.)? Do SARA factors correlate with each other and why or why not? How has water justice and injustice changed over time? What case studies exist that can illuminate certain aspects of hydrosocial systems? How can water injustice be prevented or mitigated? How can water justice be supported? Can water injustice be predicted or anticipated? This work takes a transdisciplinary systems approach that primarily (though not exclusively) focuses on the interactions between the state, utilities, and residents.

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