PROCESSES OF CONNECTIONS/DISCONNECTIONS IN SOCIO-HYDROSYSTEMS: ASSESSING THE VISIBLE/INVISIBLE INTERFACE IN THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN THE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL DIMENSIONS OF SOCIO-HYDROSYSTEMS.
François-Michel Le Tourneau, Senior Researcher at the CNRS, OHMI Pima County Director
David Blanchon, Professor, University of Paris Nanterre, Department of Geography
The HYDECO research project, funded by the CNRS (French National Research Center) and the INEE (Institute for the Environment) through the Labex DRIIHM, is an interdisciplinary and multi-site project. The research project relies on the network of Human-Environment Observatories (Observatoires Hommes-Milieux, OHM), in place since 2007.
The relationship between societies and their hydrosystems can be understood as a series of connections and disconnections that occur in all domains (e.g., hydrological, geomorphological, ecological, etc.) and dimensions (e.g, longitudinal, vertical, lateral). The use of watercourses and water resources creates material and symbolic connections which leads water stakeholders to also consider the sociological and political, aesthetic and spiritual dimensions of the socio-hydrosystem. However, the development of physical (e.g, dams) and social infrastructures (e.g, waterbodies are so artificialized that local residents forget about their existence) generates important disconnections. As a result, recent water and environmental policies emphasize the importance of connectivity between the various elements and compartments of socio-hydro-systems and focus especially on reconnection at all levels. In this context, the objective of the HYDECO project is to test the effectiveness of the connection/disconnection/reconnection reading grid applied to socio-hydro systems and re-explore the notion of connectivity in a critical and exemplified way. Thus, the project proposes a fertile ground to re-explore to the concept of socio-hydrosystem and its socio-ecological implications, by emphasizing both socio-cultural evolutions and functional interactions between all its components. To do so, the project articulates the following theoretical frameworks: the visible/invisible opposition as developed in landscape theory, and the concept of tipping point coming from the fields of climate science, environmental sciences and ecology. The tipping point corresponds to a critical level of an external condition where a system shifts to an alternative state, which can be interpreted in certain cases as a catastrophic bifurcation. The innovative contribution of this project is to use the concept of "tipping point" to understand how and where connections and disconnections take place in the socio-hydro systems. Are there thresholds beyond which the functioning of socio-hydrosystems will be irreversibly altered? Is it possible to predict them? Conversely, can connections/disconnections lead to a shift of socio-hydrosystems into radically different modes of functioning?
To answer these questions, the project mobilizes a team of 40 researchers, distributed in 7 different study sites over 2.5 years: Pima County (OHMI Pima County at IRL iGlobes - CNRS University of Arizona); the Rhône Valley (OHM Rhône Valley, University of Lyon); the Mediterranean lagoons of Etang de l'Or and Biguglia (OHM Mediterranean Coast at the University of Montpellier and the University of Corsica); the Rhine Valley (OHM Fessenheim at the University of Strasbourg) ; the Atlantic lagoon of Estarreja (OHM Estarreja at the University of Aveiro, Portugal); the watershed of Umiujaq (OHM Nunavik, University of Laval, Québec); the peatland of Bernadouze and high mountain lakes in the French Pyrenees (OHM Pyrénées-Haut Vicdessos at the University of Toulouse).
The objective is to collect data and analyses produced for all socio-hydrosystems which will then be examined from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective and methods. This comparison and dialogue between the different situations observed will be made possible by the development of a common lexicon based on the vocabulary widely accepted by the scientific community for socio-hydrosystems. The goal is to find out if there are common determinants of connections/connections/reconnections, but also if we can identify recurrent effects that could be used to anticipate future developments within the observed territories or, more broadly, in all the world's socio-hydrosystems subject to the same conditions.
1. OHM Pima County: Tucson Active Management Area and the Santa Cruz River. Research Topics:
2. OHM Rhône Valley: The Rhône corridor from Lake Geneva to the delta
3. OHM Mediterranean Coast: The lagoons of Etang de l'Or (Montpellier) and Biguglia (Bastia, Corsica)
4. OHM Fessenheim: The Rhine islands between the Grand canal d'Alsace and the Rhine River
5. OHM Estarreja: The Atlantic lagoon of Estarreja (Portugal)
6. OHM Nunavik: The Watershed Umiujaq (Québec, Canada)
7. OHM Pyrénées-Haut Vicdessos: The Peatland of Bernadouze and high moutains lakes