Article – “Pragmatism versus Potential: New Regionalism and Rural Drinking Water Management,” Breen, Markey, Vodden. (2018)

Minnes, S., Breen, S.-P., Markey, S., & Vodden, K. (2018). Pragmatism versus Potential: New Regionalism and Rural Drinking Water Management. Journal of Rural and Community Development, 13(2).
This article proposes a new approach to managing drinking water at a regional scale, incorporating best practices related to regional development, new regionalism, regional resilience, water management, and sustainable infrastructure. The feasibility of the proposed approach was explored in two rural case study regions in Canada, where key informant interviews and focus groups were conducted with municipal, regional, and provincial officials. From a theoretical perspective, the proposed approach to managing drinking water has the potential to leverage the benefits of regionalism to address many existing challenges in rural drinking water systems by improving efficiencies, fostering collaboration, and helping to build regional resilience through an enhanced infrastructure foundation. We outline a variety of potential strategies to enhance rural drinking water systems using the proposed regional water management model. However, the appropriateness and feasibility of the approach in rural settings remains to be seen. The research reveals gaps among stakeholders in their understanding of drinking water systems generally, and further knowledge gaps associated with the potentials for the application of a regionalist approach more specifically, which hindered a more robust assessment of the approach in the case regions. The research adds to the discourse on rural regional development and provides in-depth case study findings on the potential application of regional development approaches in addressing infrastructure challenges in rural areas.  Keywords: new regionalism; drinking water; rural Canada; watershed management

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