The Potential of Mediation for Resolving Conflicts Between Irrigation and Urban Water Users

by Joel D. Palmer, Palmer Engineering, Corvallis, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Management of Irrigation and Drainage Systems: Integrated Perspectives


This paper discusses the potential of mediation as a means of managing and resolving conflict productivity. Conflict over allocation and use of water may arise from technical or substantive issues but are often colored by emotional, psychological or financial issues. Mediation helps the disputing parties to settle conflicts peacefully, before they have escalated to the point of litigation. In contrast to the adversarial-coercive nature of litigation, mediation is characterized as a voluntary-collaborative process to build consensus and forge an agreement that transcend each parties' negotiating position. The role the mediator must take from the conflict assessment phase up to the problem-solving stage is described. Compared to the labor-management model, the environmental mediator may have a more complex task and additional responsibilities. Nonetheless, mediation does produce consensus agreements, improves the relationships among the parties, and decreases the chances of conflict recurring.

Subject Headings: Dispute resolution | Municipal water | Irrigation water | Water resources | Litigation | Water supply | Human and behavioral factors | Urban and regional development

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