Groundwater governance and implementing the conservation policy: the case study of Rafsanjan Plain in Iran

  • S. Jalal Mirnezami
  • Cheryl de Boer
  • Ali BagheriEmail author
Case study


The groundwater system in the Rafsanjan aquifer perpetuated sustainably for decades before 1950s; however, its groundwater resources have been overexploited in the recent decades. In this paper, we aim to investigate the water governance system to understand the reasons behind the ongoing overexploitation. Sustainability processes are considered a policy implementation problematic. As such, we employ the contextual interaction theory as a policy implementation framework to assess the groundwater governance as part of the context for the conservation policy. Data for this qualitative research were gathered from legal texts, articles, technical reports, and multiple interviews with authorities and groundwater users. The assessment results revealed that the poor quality of the governance system is central to the ineffectiveness of the conservation policies. Findings of this paper can be relied on to devise tools to underpin an appropriate context to sustain groundwater resources.


Governance Groundwater Conservation policy Rafsanjan aquifer Contextual interaction theory Policy implementation 



The authors would like to appreciate comments from Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Hans Bressers, Gül Özerol and Ali Mirchi on the earlier versions of this paper. The field exploration in the Rafsanjan study area was carried out under the kind support of Iran Water Policy Research Institute, the support of which is highly acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tarbiat Modares UniversityTehranIran
  2. 2.Sharif Policy Research Institute (SPRI)Sharif University of TechnologyTehranIran
  3. 3.Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-information Management (ITC-PGM)University of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Water Resources EngineeringTarbiat Modares UniversityTehranIran

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