A growing body of groundwater case studies demonstrates that groundwater users are capable of devising solutions to CPR dilemmas that are local in nature. More complex and extensive CPR dilemmas, however, often require more collaborative efforts between resource users and regional and national governments.

The shape and form of productive and complementary relations among resource users and different organizations and governments is not well understood and requires substantial investigation. Groundwater basins and large-scale canal irrigation systems present challenging governance issues that are often avoided, ignored or made to disappear within the black box of integrated management (Chambers, 1988; Ostrom, 1992; Blomquist and Schlager, 2005). Even if a workable set of arrangements are devised that adequately address appropriation and provision problems, governance challenges do not end. As Ostrom (1992, p. 63) argues:

It is necessary to stress the ongoing nature of the process of crafting institutions, since it is so frequently described (if discussed at all) as a one-shot effort to organize farmers. . . . Without the continuing capacity to match new rules to new circumstances, successful irrigation systems face considerable difficulties in coping with the diverse environmental and strategic threats that arise in dynamic systems.

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