Water Resources Management

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 535–551 | Cite as

Water Security Assessment: Integrating Governance and Freshwater Indicators

  • Emma S. Norman
  • Gemma Dunn
  • Karen Bakker
  • Diana M. Allen
  • Rafael Cavalcanti de Albuquerque


A new approach is developed for assessing water security status: the Water Security Status Indicators (WSSI) assessment method. The WSSI has four innovative aspects which address important gaps in the literature. First, it was developed in cooperation with end-users, whose participation enabled the design of a user-friendly assessment method. Second, this method is designed to be implemented at the local scale (small scale watershed or sub-watershed). Third, the WSSI is multivariate: it integrates variables pertaining to water quality and water quantity as they relate to aquatic ecosystems and human health. Fourth, the method provides concrete outputs for incorporation into water decision-making processes. In this paper, we document the WSSI assessment method and its application in a community in British Columbia (Canada), including the incorporation of community input into the development and application of the WSSI, and the integration of WSSI results into community water governance.


Water security Governance Environment Indicators Assessment Framework Canada 



This article is the product of the second phase of a 4-year (2008–2012) research project “Developing a Canadian Water Security Framework as a Tool for Improved Governance for Watersheds” that created a Water Security Assessment Framework (WSAF) and includes decision-support tools for water managers. This research project, led by Dr. Karen Bakker and Dr. Diana Allen, was funded by grants from the Canadian Water Network (CWN) and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. We would particularly like to thank our case study partners in the Township of Langley (Asher Rivzi, Mark Sloat, and Kevin Larsen) and the Water Availability Index development team (Michel Villeneuve, Francis Savignac, and Gillian Walker), and Gwyn Graham from Environment Canada. We would like to acknowledge the contributions of our team researchers, in particular Christina Cook, Judy Isaac-Renton, Natalie Prystajecky, Kay Teschke, Renuka Grover, Mike Simpson, Ed McBean and Cassandra Banting. In addition, thanks to Eric Leinberger for creating Fig. 1. We would also like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for financially supporting the dissemination of this research and the BC Ministry of Environment for funding our workshop on water security in September 2009.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emma S. Norman
    • 1
  • Gemma Dunn
    • 2
  • Karen Bakker
    • 3
  • Diana M. Allen
    • 4
  • Rafael Cavalcanti de Albuquerque
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA
  2. 2.Program on Water GovernanceUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Program on Water GovernanceUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Department of Earth SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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