GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Week 8 Overview


This week, we will look at water and, importantly, how water and human society are interconnected. The two movies for this week look at water deals in California (Water and Power: A California Heist) and the impact of water privatization around the world (Flow: For Love of Water). The three readings for this week look at different aspects of hydropower development in Southeast Asia. While Bakker (1999) considers the geopolitics of the projects, Green and Baird (2016) understand projects from the scale of the project-affected persons. Finally, Ziv et al. (2012) take an environmental science lens to the development of hydropower projects on the Mekong river. 

Consider these questions as you go through the material for this week:

  • Whom does water belong to? Who owns water?
  • Does declaring water a human right ensure access for all? And if water is a human right, then how is it to be made available to all?
  • Do the benefits of hydropower outweigh its costs? How are these benefits and costs distributed?


  • Reading: Bakker, K. (1999). The politics of hydropower: developing the Mekong. Political Geography, 18, 209–232.
  • Reading: Green, W. N., & Baird, I. G. (2016). Capitalizing on Compensation: Hydropower Resettlement and the Commodification and Decommodification of Nature–Society Relations in Southern Laos. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 106(4), 853–873.
  • Reading: Ziv, G., Baran, E., Nam, S., Rodríguez-Iturbe, I., & Levin, S. A. (2012). Trading-off fish biodiversity, food security, and hydropower in the Mekong River Basin. PNAS, 109(15), 5609–5614.
  • Film: Zenovich, M. (Producer/Director). (2017). Water and Power: A California Heist [Documentary]. United States: Jigsaw Productions. 
  • Film: Salina, I. (Director), with Starr, S., Holland G. and Tomlinson, Y. (Producers). (2008) Flow: For love of Water, United States; Oscilloscope Laboratories.

Assignments Due:

  • Take the Week 8 Quiz (covering this week's materials) by Saturday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
  • Complete Week 8 Activity and Discussion in Canvas  by Saturday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

Please see the calendar in Canvas for specific due dates.