Measuring to manage: co-producing people and water with standards (16594)
This paper focusses on the introduction of new standards for freshwater measurement and reporting (the Regulations) in the Canterbury region of New Zealand. In Canterbury, where 60% of the total volume of freshwater for consumptive use in New Zealand is allocated, the increasing demand for water amongst competing users has resulted in freshwater management becoming highly contentious. A lack in accurate data around how much of the total allocated water is actually used has historically been one of the sources of this conflict. This paper examines the role that the introduction of standards has played in reconfiguring the relationships that have underpinned freshwater management in the region in the past. The conceptual analytical framework of co-production and the pathway of making identities have been utilised to reveal how the Regulations have altered these relations. It is concluded that the introduction of the Regulations has redistributed power relationships amongst the actors leading to a reconfiguration of natural and social orders. Freshwater governance in Canterbury can therefore be considered to have become decentralised by becoming embedded within the metering technology, the data produced and the standards that inform them. These findings are important given the current freshwater management regulatory context in New Zealand, where there is a significant push towards increasing measurement and monitoring to inform evidence based decision making.