The Culture of Flushing: A Wastewater Story

While research on the social causes and consequences of water scarcity is abundant, the topic of wastewater receives scant attention. Canadian historian Jaimie Benidickson called this phenomenon “The Culture of Flushing”, whereby individuals appear to forget what happens to water after the toilet is flushed. For the past seven years, Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega has undertaken research on the social context of wastewater governance. His work examines the efficiency and efficacy of watershed councils as institutional innovations in the field of water management. He has investigated numerous case studies, but in this talk he will focus specifically in one particular Mexican watershed and its institutional arrangements: the Lerma-Chapala river basin council and organizations. His research uses neo-institutional theory to shed light on how formal and informal rules are established and how individual organizations collaborate and build (or destroy) specific institutional arrangements for wastewater management. He will shed light on this often forgotten side of water governance and offer a conceptual model to study water governance that involves the study of polluted effluents.