Feedback loops within interdependencies. The case of drinking water infrastructures

By Kevin Caillaud

Due to their historical dimension and their socio-technical characteristics (including a relational function established between resources, territories, services and populations), drinking water infrastructures reveal the interdependencies faced by public services. These interdependencies—understood as mutual relations between the constituents of the drinking water system producing effects of reciprocy—occur within and across different dimensions of the functioning of public services and involving the infrastructure issue: environment, technical equipment, political and administrative organisation, territorial planning, water demand and uses, etc. Interdependencies depict a confrontation of representation registers and actions linked to the water system, and the resulting interactions. These interdependent relationships are reflected by feedback loops that reposition the actors in specific positions, and reproduce issues, power relations and actions. The confinement of actors in a segmented approach of water problems prevents them from understanding controversial points in their entirety and anticipating their interrelatedness. This article aims at contributing to the socio-historical and cognitive analysis of drinking water services and infrastructures, by repositioning them in a non-linear holistic perspective.

  • drinking water
  • infrastructures
  • interactions
  • feedback loops
  • cognitive analysis
  • temporalities
  • registers of interdependence
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