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Drinking water risk management: local government collaboration in West Sweden

Journal article
Authors Anna Bendz
Åsa Boholm
Published in Journal of Risk Research
ISSN 1366-9877
Publication year 2018
Published at School of Global Studies, Social Anthropology
Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Department of Political Science
Language en
Keywords collaboration, Drinking water, local government, transboundary risk management
Subject categories Social Anthropology


© 2018, © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Drinking water provisioning can be approached as a paradigmatic case of transboundary risk management that requires government collaboration. In Sweden, as in most other countries, the provision of safe drinking water and the control of its quality is a responsibility of local governments. This explorative case study investigates how local level decision-makers (politicians and public administrators) identify and understand risks to drinking water services; how they construe governmental responsibility and collaboration between local governments. The empirical results show that decision-makers identify a number of systemically interrelated technical, natural and social risks; that responsibility is understood to be complex and fragmented and that they refrain from collaboration despite clear advantages in theory. Even if the payoff is high from a broad societal perspective for inter-municipal collaborative risk management of drinking water services, collaboration on the local level is low. Institutional uncertainties relating to the allocation of responsibility, transaction costs and political costs for individual municipalities may explain the reluctance to collaborate in this case.

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