Rainwater Harvesting and Use: On the Decisional and Economic Confinement of Water Management
Rainwater harvesting and use reveals the physical, technical, economic and political confinement of urban water within a system that reached maturity in France in the nineteenth century. This confinement has effectively reduced the role of the individual in their relationship with water and their status. Through studying several professional groups and the availability of grants and subsidies in the Poitou-Charentes region, we question this system of rainwater harvesting and use. Two sets of issues are addressed. The first concerns the opening of the economic and decisional scope of water management to the user, to manufacturing and installation companies and to local authorities. This looser configuration problematises the question of resource allocation and of competition around the relative positions of each of these stakeholders. The second set of issues concerns the transformation of the market organization into a local monopoly. The manufacturing and installation companies propose to adjoin a specific market for rainwater harvesting and use to the local monopoly. The Poitou-Charentes region tries the model of the industrial network in order to focus the trade between local businesses and customers. In these differing cases, rainwater harvesting and use becomes a medium for reflection and experimentation that reveals the confinement of the traditional organization. This underlines the political economic weight of the classic model on the operational level.