Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

First Advisor

Robert Bartlett

Second Advisor

Thomas Donnelly Noel


China, Hydraulic Systems, Scarcity, Water Control, Governance, NGO


China’s current hydraulic systems are in a state of atrophy, caused by sustained damage over centuries to infrastructure that has changed very little. Added to an already weak infrastructure is a relatively new crisis of water scarcity, which is forcing the Chinese government to allocate water resources between industry, agriculture, and people. As a state accustomed to water control without the context of scarcity, the state’s current governance structures are ill-equipped to solve the current crisis in sustainable fashion. The state is reluctant to approach non-traditional methods of water governance, and this resistance can be attributed to over two-thousand years of state authority over water control. This paper seeks to pose a challenge to the existing perception of modernism in Chinese hydraulic thought.