Jean-Baptiste Narcy

Dissertation: “Les conditions d’une gestion spatiale de l’eau – le monde de l’eau face aux filières de gestion des espaces?”, defended 2000

“Organisational requirements for the development
of “spatial water management” – Water managers confronted with the managers of water-relevant lands”

In France, water managers have come to feel the limits of managing only fluxes of water and pollution. They repeatedly announce their intention to intervene in the management of areas of significance for water management. Wetland management, flood plains preservation, the efforts to protect catchment areas, …, are so many aspects of what we propose to view as a wider emerging project of “spatial water-management “. Its implementation cannot but interfere with the management systems already in force in the affected areas (agricultural policy, natural environment protection, town planning…). How should water managers organise themselves in view of these – potentially difficult – interactions?

This research rests on (1) a retrospective analysis of the historical relationship between water management and space management and (2) two case studies (the policy of a Water Agency concerning wetlands, and public action regarding floods in the Oise valley). It shows the magnitude and diversity of organisational issues to be dealt with by efforts in favour of “spatial water management”. It stresses the central part played by two potential antagonisms. “Spatial water management” can, on the one hand, conflict with pre-existing space management systems, and on the other hand, clash with existing water management efforts. A thorough analysis is suggested to bring out new management prospects to overcome these antagonisms. This analysis concentrates particularly on the legitimisation processes at work, and on the different notions of nature that “spatial water management” must reconcile to succeed. This research closes with recommendations to water managers.

Dissertation published as a book (sold online by the publisher).
A paper presenting some of the results is available here.

Jean-Baptiste Narcy is now senior researcher and consultant at AScA in Paris.