WIT Press

Path Dependence And Critical Junctures: An Urban-rural Water Sharing Study


Free (open access)





Page Range

177 - 187




273 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


L. Nicol


Path dependence and critical junctures theory has evolved from first aiming to capture specific economic phenomena to explaining a host of social phenomena across a wide variety of disciplines. At this early stage in a planned research program, this paper will provide a literature review of path dependence and critical junctures. The subsequent study will focus on the history of urban-rural tension in the Calgary, Alberta region of Canada and the recent partnership that seeks to chart a new trajectory, which includes a vital water-sharing component. Paying particular attention to the potential access to water, the study will seek to determine whether powerful actors can vanquish an acrimonious path dependent past and carve out a new trajectory through what may potentially be a critical juncture. Keywords: water management, path dependence, critical junctures, regional governance. 1 Background There is a certain degree of urgency in improving water management in Alberta. A decade of unrelenting population and economic growth and the subsequent stress on water resources resulted in the termination of issuing new water allocations in 2005 in most of the southern part of the province. This means that existing water allocations need to be reallocated to new and existing users. Trading of water rights and water allocations is permissible under the province’s Water Act and provides necessary flexibility. As irrigation controls 75% of all allocated water, it is expected irrigators will be an important part of the water reallocation process. Indeed a high-profile case occurred in 2007 involving the Western Irrigation District selling 2,500 dam3 for a commercial development.


water management, path dependence, critical junctures, regional governance