1 See Kendy (2003) for a discussion of confusion surrounding the concept of sustain-ability in relation to groundwater aquifers.

2 The attributes are an initial effort to identify proximate factors that directly affect self-organizing efforts among resource users. The factors require greater conceptual development and empirical testing before they may be strictly relied upon (Ostrom, 2001; Agrawal, 2002). Conceptually, the physical characteristics implicitly assume that appropriation externalities, or specific forms of provision problems, are the central problem to be addressed. For instance, feasibility of improvement centres on degradation of the resource, and predictability centres on resource flows. However, the attributes of the physical system may be interpreted more broadly to include the components and structure of resource systems and not just flows. This would allow for a wider range of problems to be captured by the characteristics.

3 Among the many criticisms of government-built and -operated surface irrigation systems is that little attention is paid to provision or appropriation dilemmas and their linkages. Once a system is built, few resources are devoted to maintaining it, and in many systems irrigators are not asked to contribute to upkeep. Also, appropriation dilemmas often emerge as the system is being built. Those at the head of the command area are often allowed to take as much water as they please, as the rest of the system is being built. Later, they are reluctant to limit their water use. A vicious circle readily emerges: as appropriation dilemmas intensify, farmers face few incentives to contribute to system maintenance; as the system continues to decay, farmers face few incentives to take water in an orderly manner.

4 As one reviewer noted, irrigators are more likely to develop rules that address appropriation problems in alluvial aquifer settings and not hard-rock aquifer settings. In alluvial aquifers, pumpers can more readily identify the effects of their pumping on others and on the aquifer. I am grateful for the reviewer's insight.

5 As Shah (1993, p. 135) explains: 'Externalities associated with private development and exploitation of groundwater resources - and the environmental ill effects they normally produce - are generally considered and analysed from a macro perspective. The source of the problem, however, is micro and can be traced to characteristic behavioural patterns of farmers as economic agents'.

6 As a reviewer noted, well spacing rules may also be enforced through limiting electricity connections.

7 Findings from studies of CPRs such as fisheries suggest that resource users find appropriation externalities more challenging to address than assignment problems and technological externalities. In the case of fisheries, fish populations fluctuate unpredictably and fishermen find it difficult to relate their harvesting activities with fish abundance or scarcity (Schlager, 1990, 1994). The 'noise' of fish population dynamics drowns out the effects of harvesting on fish stocks. While local fishing communities do a relatively good job of addressing assignment problems and technological externalities, they rarely attempt to directly address production externalities (Schlager, 1994). Groundwater users may find appropriation externalities less challenging to address than fishermen because the interaction between pumping and water tables is more direct and observable than is the interaction between fishing and fish populations.

8 The exception to the claim that in general communities will not organize to address provision problems appears to provide support for it. Sakthivadivel (Chapter 10, this volume) notes the emergence of a people's groundwater recharge movement in India. Communities in a few states are actively investing in small-scale recharge facilities, or they are using existing canal irrigation infrastructure, such as canals, tanks and reservoirs, to percolate water underground. The purpose of such activities is to maintain the productivity of shallow wells. The water from the wells is used to ensure a reliable source of drinking water or to ensure irrigation water over the course of a season. The communities are able to capture most of the water that they recharge for their own uses. They are not engaged in attempts to restore, maintain or enhance the productivity of the groundwater aquifer as a whole. Rather, they are engaged in annual storage projects.

9 A number of other studies have noted the poor performance of government-owned tube wells (see e.g. Johnson, 1986; Meinzen-Dick, 2000).

10 Dubash (2002) provides a careful comparative institutional analysis of varying and changing groundwater exchange relations across two villages.

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