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Comparative analysis of the institutional regimes of urban water networks in tourist resorts, the case-studies of Crans-Montana (Switzerland) and Morzine-Avoriaz (France)

Presented atEAWAG social science seminar, Zurich, Switzerland, 17 september
Publication date2012

Tourism resort represents an urban area mainly dedicated to tourism while including at the same time a permanent residential population. From the point of view of urban water networks, this characteristic induces a strong seasonal fluctuation of residential population and involves special water uses such as golf irrigation, production of artificial snow or functioning of thermal baths. Therefore, water supply planning can be tricky and difficult to predict. These difficulties are reinforced by the fact that temporary concentrations of water demand coincide generally with periods of water stress. In the case of seaside resorts, frequenting peaks arise in general during summer when water resource is less available. The problem is similar in mountainous tourist resorts where water is generally unavailable as it is stored as snow during months of highest frequenting. Furthermore, these difficulties are often reinforced by resorts' geographical localisations, which are often situated in sensitive areas in terms of temporary or structural water shortages. These problematic issues often lead to strong rivalries between tourists' water uses on the one hand, and between locals and tourists uses on the other hand. Thus, features of tourism tend to reinforce rivalries between different sectors of activity (supply of drinking water, tourism, hydroelectricity, artificial snow, irrigation, etc.). These different and competing water uses need the implementation of rules structured through public policies and property rights and through national, regional and local legal components; We propose to call this framework as an Institutional Resource Regime (IRR) (Knoepfel et al. 2001, 2007, 2009). Through this PhD thesis, we answer different research questions. We firstly aim to understand how those different IRR are implemented within tourism spaces? How do actors materialize them and what are their effects in term of technical, environmental, social and economical sustainability of urban water networks? We then, investigate effects of tourism on water networks infrastructures' management at the scale of the tourist resort and its river basin. We focus our attention on two tourist resorts situated within two different institutional contexts (Crans-Montana, Switzerland and Morzine-Avoriaz, France) and study three types of institutional regime in particular: public, delegated and private management of infrastructures. Results of this PhD thesis indicate firstly how tourism modifies in a significant way the perception and management modalities of water resource and infrastructures. Results also show that functional space of infrastructures management rarely matches with the limits of the natural river basin and indicates what it means in terms of sustainability. Finally, the comparison of different institutional regimes reveals the strengths and weakness of each management model in the specific case of tourist resorts and shows the different solutions in locally implementing an institutional arrangement for a more or less sustainable management of network infrastructures and natural water system.

  • Institutional regime of resources
  • Urban water networks
  • Sustainability
  • Local regulatory arrangement
Citation (ISO format)
BRETHAUT, Christian. Comparative analysis of the institutional regimes of urban water networks in tourist resorts, the case-studies of Crans-Montana (Switzerland) and Morzine-Avoriaz (France). In: EAWAG social science seminar. Zurich, Switzerland. 2012.
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  • PID : unige:23026

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