Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Environmental Program

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.