The next question is what does the legislation say about the internal structure - the internal institutional arrangements - of WUOs? In some cases the legislation largely leaves such issues to be addressed in the governing document of each WUO. In Mexico, for example, the National Water Law simply states that, in order to be granted water rights, WUOs must adopt a governing document that describes, among other matters, the internal organization of the WUO. The South African legislation takes a slightly different approach: the National Water Act says little about the internal institutional arrangements within WUOs but instead refers to a model governing document that is annexed as a Schedule to the Act.
Elsewhere the legislation describes the internal institutional arrangements in detail, sometimes by reference to provisions that must be reflected in the WUO's own governing document, otherwise by setting out the relevant provisions in the legislation itself.
On a substantive level, the main criteria for the internal institutional arrangements foreseen in the legislation depend on the nature of the relationship between WUOs and their participants, specifically whether or not the relationship is one of membership.
As regards WUOs that function on a membership basis, the legislation typically calls for the following type of internal institutional arrangement:
- a 'general assembly' or meeting of all WUO members, which is the sovereign body of the WUO;
- a 'management board' whose members are elected by the General Assembly and which is responsible to that body for supervising the day to day operation of the WUO; and
- a 'chairperson' of the WUO who chairs the meetings of the management board and the general assembly and who is often the formal legal representative of the WUO.
A variety of different names are used for these various bodies in both the legislation and the governing documents. For example: according to the WUO legislation of Andhra Pradesh, India, the main body of each WUO is its 'General Body or Assembly' which in turn elects a 'Management Committee'. In Costa Rica the 'General Assembly of Members' (Assemblea General de Socios), elects the 'Board of Directors' (Junta Directiva) composed of at least three members which is chaired by a 'Chairman' who is the legal representative of the WUO. In France the General Assembly elects a 'Syndicate' (Syndicat). In the Albanian legislation the management board is called an 'Administrative Council' while in Colombia and El Salvador it is called a 'Governing Board' (Junta Directiva). To avoid confusion the terms 'general assembly', 'management board' and 'chairperson' will be used in this study.
It is not uncommon for the legislation to require or permit WUOs to have additional internal institutions, including auditing/supervisory boards and dispute settlement panels. Indeed, a wide range of variations is to be found in the legislation: for example, the legislation of the Italian Region of Veneto (Venice) calls for a relatively complex institutional structure (see Box E).
In Germany, the legislation permits a degree of flexibility regarding internal institutional arrangements. It stipulates that WUOs must have two basic organs: the 'Assembly of Association Members' and the 'Chairman of the Assembly'. In cases where the assembly is too large to be efficient, the governing document can contain provisions for the creation of an 'Assembly Committee', consisting of representatives elected by the members of the WUO. Instead of providing for the appointment of one individual as Chairman of the Assembly, the governing document can provide for the creation of a 'Management Board'. The law states that where the governing document provides for the direct appointment of a chairman, that person has the title 'Chairman of the Association'; where the governing document provides for the creation of a Management Board, the Chairman of the Management Board is at the same time designated Chairman of the WUO. In practice, however, German WUOs often have both a general assembly and a management board.
Box E - Institutional Arrangements within a Veneto Region Land Reclamation Consorzio
The General Assembly (Assemblea generale) is composed of all Consorzio members and meets to elect the General Board.
The General Board (Consiglio) is composed of thirty members elected by all Consorzio members in accordance with their voting rights, one representative from each local government in the area of operation of the Consorzio and one representative of the Regional government. The Board has a five-year mandate. It is responsible for approving the Consorzio's governing document and operating rules, subject to the approval of the Regional government.
The Management Board (Giunta) is composed of five members elected by the General Board, in addition to the Chairperson and vice chairperson of the Consorzio. The representative of the Regional Government is a member of the Management Board.
The Chairperson (Presidente) is elected by the General Board and is, at the same time, chairperson of the Management Board and of the Consorzio. The law spells out which other administrative functions are incompatible with this role.
The Board of Auditors (Collegio dei revisori dei conti) is composed of two members elected by the General Board and one member appointed by the Regional Government. The latter presides over the Board.
In the case of WUOs that do not function on a membership basis, there is usually no provision for a general assembly. Instead the participants directly elect a management board. Consequently, similar questions arise regarding the allocation of votes and decision making processes whether a WUO has members or not.
Furthermore, a range of variations are to be found in the legislation. For example in South Africa, WUOs have members but they do not have a general assembly. Instead, WUO members participate through standing and voting in elections to the management board in rather the same way that land owners participate in, for example, a non-membership California Irrigation District.
One of the main tasks of a WUO general assembly is to elect the management board, but it is usually not the only one. Others include approving the annual budget and accounts, investment and water management plans and hearing the annual reports of the Management Board. Sometimes, for example in the cases of Kyrgyz Republic and Germany, these tasks are actually specified in the legislation. Similarly, article 17 of the Romanian legislation provides that the general assembly of each WUO has the exclusive right to deal with the following matters:
(a) amendments to the statutes;
(b) approval of the accounts, annual report and proposed budget;
(c) approval of the operation and maintenance plan;
(d) approval of the cropping plan, the irrigation schedule and plan, and the operation and maintenance plans;
(e) the level of fees, charges and penalties to be levied by the association;
(f) the kind of sanctions to be imposed by the association upon members;
(g) appointment and dismissal of the members of the management board and the chairperson;
(h) amendments or alterations to the organizational structure of the association;
(i) decisions on whether to remunerate the management board and the chairperson, and if so, the level of remuneration to be paid;
(j) the creation of other paid posts;
(k) the merger of the association with another association and its membership of a federation; and
(l) the dissolution and liquidation of the association.
The legislation usually requires a WUO general assembly to meet at least once a year, although in some countries it must meet more frequently. For example in Punjab Province, Pakistan the law provides that general assemblies must meet at least twice a year, while in Peru the legislation requires the general assembly to meet at least three times a year in 'regular session' (not including extraordinary meetings).
WUO legislation typically also specifies the circumstances in which extraordinary meetings of the general assembly are to be called. For example in Albania such meetings may be called at the discretion of the management board. However, the board must call a meeting on the written request of at least 20 percent of the members.
In some countries the level of participation necessary to render general assembly meetings quorate is addressed in the legislation. In Bulgaria, the law requires the presence of members holding more than half of the votes. Meanwhile, in Pakistan at least fifty percent of the members themselves must be physically present. Similarly the Armenian and French WUO laws both require at least half of the WUO's participants to be present: fifty percent plus one vote. In France the law goes on to provide that if this threshold cannot be met, the meeting is adjourned for fifteen days. The resumed meeting is deemed to be 'competent', in other words quorate, however many participants are present.
Elsewhere, in countries such as Peru the quoracy of meetings is left to be determined by each individual WUO in its governing document. However, in order to encourage participation, members who do not attend the general assembly are sanctioned by the local 'Water Authority' with a fine. Similarly in Spain and Argentina, not casting one's vote is sanctioned by a fine (up to three times the value of water fee per hectare).
While some general assembly meetings may suffer from having too few participants, others may find themselves with too many: in practical terms, meetings of more than around 100 people can be difficult and costly, both to hold and organise. Given that WUOs may often have more than 100 members, how is this issue addressed in the legislation? In Spain WUO members are entitled to elect a 'General Board' which in turns elects a management board and similar provisions are found in the German legislation described above.
The Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Kyrgyz legislation provide for the establishment of 'representative systems' whereby each WUO member is entitled to elect a representative to represent him or her at the meeting of the general assembly which becomes a meeting of representatives. A similar approach is used in Pakistan. Farmers from each watercourse or canal elect one representative to the general assembly. The legislation specifies that the election of such representatives must be conducted under the authority of a government appointed Election Officer.
In the Netherlands, WUOs operate according to the principle of pay, say and interest. Only those persons with an interest in local water management ('stakeholders') pay for the activities of, and are represented in, the WUO. The greater an individual's 'interest' in a WUO's activities, the more that individual pays. The legislation lists the following categories of stakeholders:
the owners and tenants of land;
the owners of buildings;
the users of buildings for commercial purposes; and
the inhabitants of the area concerned.
Each category elects its own members to the general assembly. Similarly in the Region of Veneto in Italy WUO participants are divided in three categories according to the rate of contribution they pay. Each category has the right to be represented in the general assembly.
When this kind of representative approach is used, the practical distinction between membership and non-membership WUOs starts to blur. In the latter form, rather than electing a representative to the general assembly, participants have the right to directly elect the members of the management board who are, just like in the case of a membership form WUO, responsible for the day to day management of the organization. A key issue in both cases is how votes are allocated.
As regards the allocation of votes, two basic approaches can be detected in the WUO legislation reviewed. The first is voting equality, whereby each participant holds one vote. This approach, sometimes described as a 'one member, one vote', is found in a number of countries including Albania and Costa Rica. This approach probably works best when WUO participants have roughly equal interests in the WUO, for example similarly sized land plots.
The other approach is to allocate votes to each participant by reference to some form of objective criteria, such as the size of a person's land holding, the amount of water they use and so forth. A number of examples are described in more detail in Box F. The rationale for weighted voting rights is usually that those who make a greater financial contribution to WUO should have a greater say in how it operates.
In some of the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where WUOs are generally a new concept, the land and farm reform processes have created a wide variation in the size of farms. This has in turn raised questions relating to equity and control as regards WUOs. Within a single WUO it is not uncommon to find a situation where they may be, for example, one to three large farms of several hundred hectares and twenty to a hundred small one-hectare farms. In such circumstances, if votes are allocated on a 'one member one vote' basis, large farm owners can be reluctant to join WUOs that will be dominated by the owners of small farms. Conversely, if votes are allocated simply by reference to the size of each participant's land holding, then the owners of one or two large farms could dominate the operation of the WUO. In such situations, there is no single 'correct' solution.
Box F - Votes for all
Argentina - Voting rights are allocated by reference to the extent of the land being irrigated (in any case, no more than 10 votes per person).
Chile - Voting rights are allocated to participants in proportion to the water rights they hold.
England and Wales - Votes are allocated for elections to Internal Drainage Boards on the basis of the 'assessable value' of the land (which is calculated by reference to the notional rental value of the land). The occupier of land with an assessable value of less than £50 is allocated one vote and then one additional vote is allocated for incremental increases in the assessable value of the land up to a limit of ten votes for land with an assessable value of more than £1,000.
Germany - Votes are allocated to each member in accordance with the 'benefit' gained by that member from the Water and Land Association's activities. In practice this is calculated by reference to the amount of fees each member is charged which is in turn calculated at a flat rate by reference to the size of their land holding.
Peru - Votes are allocated on the basis of land area used at a rate of one vote per hectare up to a maximum of twenty votes.
South Africa - The Water Act provides that rules concerning the allocation of votes are to be specified in the governing document of the WUO. Criteria for voting rights proposed in the model governing document annexed to the Act are: one vote per water use entitlement, or a pro-rata number of votes in proportion to the quantity of water authorized under a particular entitlement, or one vote for every five hectares that can be irrigated in terms of the member's entitlement, with a possible limit of 10 votes per member.
Spain - Votes in Water Communities are allocated by reference to the volume of water used.
The response of the Kyrgyz WUO legislation has been to leave the matter to be resolved by the participants in a proposed WUO during the process of elaborating and agreeing the governing document. Thus article 13(8) of the law says:
The Charter shall specify the number of votes each WUO member is to have when taking decisions at meetings of the General Assembly on the basis of one of the following principles:
(a) each member is to have one vote irrespective of the size of their land plot within the WUO Service area; or that
(b) each member is to be allocated with votes in proportion to the size of that member's land plot within the WUO Service area; or that
(c) each member is to be allocated with votes in proportion to the amount of fees paid to the WUO during the previous year.
Of course, this approach means that a considerable amount of negotiation will be needed during the establishment phase. On the other hand, if potential participants cannot even agree on the allocation of votes within a WUO then it is probably not likely that they will be able to reach agreement on its operation whatever outside rule is imposed on them.
Interestingly, while the Kyrgyz legislation guarantees each member a minimum of one vote, the French legislation does not. Instead it provides that a WUO's governing document can specify the minimum interest, by reference to the size of the land area that is owned, used or managed, that each participant must hold in order to participate in the general assembly. Those who have an insufficient interest may pool their interests to have a vote.
Even if votes are allocated on a proportionate basis, it is common for the legislation to limit the amount of votes that any one participant can hold. Sometimes, as in the case of Spain, this is done by specifying a maximum number of votes allowed to an individual participant. Elsewhere this is done by reference to a percentage of the total number of votes: in Germany, for example, an individual participant may not hold more than 40 percent of the total number of votes. In the Kyrgyz Republic this figure is 25 percent while in Georgia it is 20 percent.
In some cases the legislation provides that the exercise of the right to vote is dependent on the WUO participant having paid all due charges. For example in Spain the right to vote is directly dependant on the regular payment of fees. Finally, while the right to vote in non-membership form WUOs will usually be by secret ballot, within membership WUOs the legislation may provide for this as an option.
Whether or not there is a general assembly, the legislation almost invariably makes provision for WUOs to have a management board, which is responsible for policy development and the routine operation of the WUO. In the case of WUOs with a general assembly, the decisions of the management board are effectively supervised by the general assembly, which remains the main sovereign or decision making body. In the cases of WUOs that do not have a General Assembly, the Management Board is itself the main decision-making body.
It is relatively common for the legislation to describe the competences, composition and functioning of the management board in some detail.
For example article 16 of the draft Turkish Water User Organization Law describes the duties and powers of the management board as follows:
(a) The register of members to the organization.
(b) To perform the duties stated in the law, statute, regulations and related legislation and to use its powers to administer the organization.
(c) To elect the deputy director for cases when the director is absent, with majority of votes among themselves,
(d) To prepare the budget, final account and related reports, to deliver the fee and fine tariffs to the approval of the council,
(e) To apply the fine tariffs in accordance with their acts to those who act in contrary to the work subjects defined in Article 22 of this law, the provisions of the main statute, fee tariff and regulations published.
(f) To make transfer between the payment titles.
(g) To make negotiations before the concerning banks and establishments for the supply of foreign or local credit, which is decided to be used by the organization council.
(h) To examine and approve the specifications of overbidding, underbidding, procurement and purchase decisions.
(i) To employ the required personnel in accordance with the council decisions.
(j) To sign agreements with the state institutions, in accordance with the council decisions, concerning the work subjects of the organization.
(k) To prepare the draft regulations of the organization and, if required, draft amendments of the main statute and deliver to the approval of the organization council.
In some countries, the legislation specifies a maximum number of management board members: seven in El Salvador, nine in Punjab Province, Pakistan and Colombia. Elsewhere a minimum number is specified, three in Romania for example, while the Tunisian legislation prescribes a range: between three and nine members. The South African legislation, however, simply provides that details about the number of members of the management board and their terms of office must be indicated in the governing document of each WUO, although as already mentioned a model governing document is annexed to the act. As a practical matter this raises an interesting question of policy. The more management board members there are, the more unwieldy (and costly) its meetings will be. With too few members, trust in the management board may be diminished.
Sometimes the legislation reserves specific positions on the management to particular classes or categories of member. For example in Andhra Pradesh, India, the legislation provides that each 'Territorial Constituency', or area sub-unit, of a WUO is to elect one member of the management board. Similarly, in Punjab Province, Pakistan the legislation provides that specific 'seats' on the management board must be reserved for representatives of different sectors of the irrigation scheme that is managed by the WUO.
In California, Irrigation Districts generally contain five 'divisions,' each of which elects one management board member.
In practice, reserving seats on the management board in this way can ensure that the interests of participants who use different parts of the infrastructure or scheme managed by the WUO are taken into consideration. A potential risk, however, is that the management board will be permanently divided, with each member seeking to advance the interests of her/his area, rather than working together to a common purpose. The Armenian legislation therefore provides that this approach is optional.
In England, if the 'Drainage District' of a WUO (in other words the land area that it serves) includes non-agricultural land that is under the responsibility of a local authority (municipality) which must pay drainage fees to the WUO, that body is entitled to appoint a number of members of the management board in proportion to the size of its contribution.
Who is entitled to stand for election to a management board? The legislation generally restricts this right to WUO participants. Very often, it also provides that no one may stand for election if they owe outstanding charges to the WUO.
Other restrictions may exist. Unusually among the legislation reviewed, the English legislation sets out minimum property qualifications restricting which participants may stand for election. And of the legislation reviewed, only that of Nepal is gender sensitive to the extent that it requires that at least two of the nine members of the management board to be women.
In some countries provision is made for outside participation in the management board. For example, in Morocco the management board is composed of seven members, six of whom are elected by the general assembly and one of whom is a representative of the state administration. Interestingly, the law specifies that a task of this member - who has full rights of participation including the right to vote - is to ensure that the WUO correctly applies all relevant legislation, including the WUO legislation. Furthermore s/he is required by the law to inform the state administration of any irregularities in the functioning of the WUO, particularly as regards the misuse of state aids.
In France, if the state, a department, a commune, a chamber of commerce or any other public body provides financial support to a WUO (at the request of the latter), the donor is entitled to nominate members of the management board in proportion to the size of its contribution to the overall budget of the WUO.
What does the legislation say about the term of office of management board members? In Colombia the term of office is two years but may be renewed while in Costa Rica and Romania, elections take place every three years. Indeed, three years is a relatively common period in the legislation reviewed. Clearly it is necessary to strike a balance between continuity, experience and the need to democratically renew mandates. One means of promoting continuity is to provide for the regular rotation of members. Thus in Morocco the legislation provides that every year one third of the management board members must resign and stand for re-election.
Concerning the functioning of management boards, it is not uncommon for the legislation to require them to meet every month. This is, for example, the approach taken in both Costa Rica and Peru. The Albanian legislation takes a slightly different approach. Meetings of the management board must take place every month or more frequently if so specified in the governing document. Additional meetings may be called, as required by the chairperson or one third of the members of the management board members. On the other hand in Morocco the management board is required to meet a minimum of twice a year.
In the event that consensus cannot be reached, the legislation often provides that decision-making by management boards is to take place by simple majority vote, although the chairperson may be given a casting vote. This is the approach of the Albanian legislation, which also requires each WUO to specify in its governing document the number of members of the Administrative Council required to be present in order to render a meeting quorate. In Saskatchewan Province in Canada this figure is 50 percent and is specified in the law. By contrast, in Peru the legislation provides that non-attendance at meetings of the management board is to be sanctioned with a fine.
It is also common for the legislation to specify the conditions for the removal of members of a management board. In Romania, for example, a WUO general assembly can remove members of the management board on the grounds of fraud, neglect of duty or other criminal behaviour. Following such a decision, the general assembly must also elect replacement management board members.
In practice, members of WUO management boards are generally unpaid, particularly in those countries with a long WUO tradition. For example, in Spain to serve as an official of a WUO is seen as a matter of honour, and similarly the long tradition of voluntary public service finds its expression in English WUOs. Nevertheless, although board members do not receive a salary, provision is sometimes made in the legislation for the payment of expenses or a sitting allowance to management board members. In some cases this is stated in the legislation, elsewhere it is implicit. To avoid the situation where such rules are circumvented by the board members being employed in another capacity by the WUO, the legislation often bars WUO employees from standing for election. The Armenian legislation provides an example of this.
By way of contrast, in the Netherlands the management board members are chosen from and appointed by the general assembly to serve a four year-term of office. They receive a salary from the WUO as their membership of the management board is a full-time commitment. Each member is responsible for a separate portfolio of tasks.
Meetings of the management board (and, if there is one, the general assembly) need to have a chairperson. Often the same person fulfils both roles, and consequently the chairperson can have an important role in the operation of a WUO.
In broad terms, the legislation takes two main approaches to the election of the chairperson. In one approach, the chairperson is elected directly by the general assembly or, if the WUO has no general assembly, by the participants. The other approach is for the chairperson to be elected by and from among the members of the management board. Examples of the first approach include the legislation of Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, the Netherlands and Spain. Examples of the second approach include the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, California, and England and Wales.
The first approach may be considered to promote the creation of a strong 'presidential' chairperson with a specific mandate from the WUO participants. Where the chairperson is elected by and from among the members of the management board this can promote the concept of collective responsibility. Which approach is best will probably depend as much on cultural considerations as much as anything else.
Apart from chairing the meetings of the management board and general assembly if there is one, the legislation of countries within the civil law tradition usually specifies that the chairperson is the WUO's legal representative. Examples include France, Chile and Costa Rica. In some countries the tasks of the chairman are set out in detail in the legislation. As a member of the management board, the chairperson usually does not receive a salary, but the legislation of some countries allows her/him to be paid a higher sitting allowance than the other members, California providing an example of this.
Apart from a general assembly, management board and chairperson, the WUO legislation reviewed also provides for the creation of a variety of other positions and institutions.
For example, in Peru the general assembly of each WUO is required to nominate an 'Electoral Committee' (Comité Electoral) to manage internal elections. Voting rights are registered in the Electoral Register (Padrón Electoral) which is maintained and updated by the Electoral Committee. It is based on information contained in the 'Register of Users' which is kept and updated by the Local Water Authority, a state agency.
In Colombia, each WUO is required to have a 'Technical Committee' (Comité Técnico) composed of three members. The law specifies that if possible, at least one of the members of the Committee should have a higher education degree. The main task of the Technical Committee is to submit comments and to participate in decision making concerning land development projects on behalf of the WUO.
Given that most WUOs need to collect fees from their members and spend money to keep the organization operating, financial management is one of the most important tasks that must be undertaken. It is therefore common for WUO legislation to provide for the creation of internal oversight and auditing mechanisms.
In Argentina WUOs must have an 'Audit Commission' (Comisíon de Vigilancia) made up of three members elected by the general assembly for a one year term that can be renewed. Similarly, in Bulgaria each WUO must have a 'Control Board' which is composed of at least three members elected for three years. It is responsible for auditing the activities of the management board and the WUO's chairperson. It also solves disputes among members, on request of the interested members.
In the Veneto Region of Italy the legislation requires each WUO to have a three member 'Board of Auditors' (Collegio dei revisori dei conti). Only two of these persons are, however, appointed by the WUO participants. The third is appointed by the Regional Government and acts as the board's chairperson.
In Mexico a WUO usually has an 'Oversight Commission' although there are no specific provisions in the law about the composition and function of this body. On the other hand in the Kyrgyz Republic the role of the 'Audit Commission' is described in some detail. Article 17 of the Law on Unions (Associations) of Water Users states:
1. The Audit Commission undertakes the supervision of the financial and economic activity of the WUA, the Council of the WUA and its Chairman.
2. The Audit Commission (which shall comprise no less than three members) shall be elected by the General Assembly from among the members of the WUA by direct ballot for a three year term. A member of the Council may not at the same time serve as a member of the Audit Commission.
3. The work order of the Audit Commission and its powers are regulated by the Rules of the Audit Commission which shall be approved by the General Assembly.
4. The Audit Commission shall audit the financial - economic activity of the WUA no less than one time in year and at the initiative of the Audit Commission, by the decision of the General Assembly or on the decision of no less than one third of total amount of members of the executive organ of the WUA.
5. The Council of WUA and the management shall provide documents regarding the financial - economic activity of WUA to the Audit Commission on its request.
6. The Audit Commission is responsible to the General Assembly.
7. Re-election of the Audit Commission can be conducted ahead of schedule on request of one forth of total amount of members of the WUA and also on the request of the Council.
8. The Audit Commission on its own initiative or by the demand of one fifth of the members of the WUA has the right to engage independent auditors to audit the operation of the WUA.
Sometimes in place of an audit commission the legislation requires the appointment of a single auditor. In Colombia the general assembly is required to elect an auditor to monitor the financial management of the WUO.
Generally speaking, the question of whether or not the legislation requires WUO to have an audit commission or a supervisory board depends on whether the country in question lies within the civil law tradition or the common law tradition. In common law jurisdictions, such as Punjab Province, Pakistan, and England and Wales, the legislation simply requires each WUO to have its accounts professionally audited.
Disputes of one form or another within a WUO are virtually inevitable. Sometimes, as in the case of Tunisia, authority is conferred on the management board to resolve disputes among WUO members. The law states than if a solution cannot be found, disputes are to be referred to the ordinary courts.
Elsewhere, it is not uncommon for the legislation to create various forms of dispute-resolution mechanism. For example the Spanish legislation requires each WUO to have a 'Jury' on which the necessary powers are conferred to summarily resolve disputes between WUO participants. Such a Jury is entitled to inter alia impose penalties on transgressors of the WUO's operating rules, and to award compensation in appropriate cases. The law requires the proceedings of each Jury to be held orally and in public, according to local custom, laws and regulations.
Based on the Spanish model, a system of juries was introduced in Albania under the first irrigation law enacted in 1991. In practice, this approach did not work and no juries were ever established by Albanian WUOs. Thus the recent legislation takes a more flexible and permissive approach: the governing document of each WUO can provide for disputes to be resolved by the general assembly, the management board or for the appointment of a special dispute-resolution panel appointed by the general assembly, the WUO regulator or an independent third party. A similar permissive and flexible approach is taken in the Kyrgyz law. As a result, some Kyrgyz WUOs have elected formal dispute resolution commissions while in others internal disputes are decided by a single elected 'water judge' or by the 'Grey Beards' (Aksakals): courts of elders which function on customary lines but which are recognised in formal law.
In Pakistan, the general assembly of each WUO is required to constitute a special three- or five-member board called the Nehri Panchayat, to solve disputes among WUO participants or other water users. Decisions of this body can be appealed to the 'Irrigation Tribunal' for the area. Similarly in Bolivia each WUO must have its own Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal administrativo) to resolve disputes among participants, although (as in the case of the Kyrgyz Republic) the law also allows for disputes to be resolved by such other relevant body as may be defined by the customary rules in effect.
Apart from internal elected institutions, it is also common for the legislation to contain provisions that enable WUOs to hire a paid manager or chief executive officer. This is essential if the (usually unpaid) chairperson and management board members are not to spend a disproportionate amount of time on routine WUO work. The legislation is usually permissive on this point (for example the German law simply says that a WUO may hire one or more managing directors). It is, after all, up to the participants in each WUO to decide what costs should be spent on staff salaries, as they will after all be responsible for paying them.
The task of hiring a manager is usually conferred on the management board. For example, in South Africa the legislation provides that the management board may appoint a 'Chief Executive Officer' and determine his mandate and functions while the Colombian legislation enables the management board to recruit and select a 'General Manager'.
In Tunisia there is no discretion. The law states that the management board of each WUO is assisted by a 'Managing Director' (Directeur) proposed by the state administration and who is entitled to participate in its meetings in an advisory role. A variation on this approach is provided by the Argentine legislation of Mendoza Province. Instead of being appointed, the 'Chief Executive Officer' (Inspector de Cauce) is elected alongside the management board every four years by all members with a simple majority vote. In this connection the role of the Chief Executive Officer is more like that of an 'executive' Chairperson.
WUO legislation sometimes refers to the hiring of other staff. This is generally more common in the case of WUOs established as public law bodies, as the right to hire staff is a normal legal right of a private law body. Details on the procedures for the hiring of other staff are not commonly spelt out in the legislation, the matter being determined by the management board or the employed manager. However, in Tunisia the law specifies that the 'Accounting Officer', responsible for the financial management of each WUO, is to be jointly nominated by the management board and the local Governor (Gouverneur). Furthermore, this person is required to submit the financial records of the WUO to the local Governor as well as to the management board. Finally, as already mentioned, alone among the legislation reviewed, the German law provides that WUO employees may be granted the status of civil servants.
|  It is not clear what
the legal implications would be of failing to follow the model constitution.
However, as already described the relevant ministry plays a prominent role
in the establishment of South African WUOs and as such the ministry would
be expected to follow the legislation.
 In Punjab Province, Pakistan, each WUO has a General Body.
 Section 46 of the German Federal Law on Water and Soil Associations, 1991.
 The Albanian Irrigation and Drainage law follows a similar approach except that only very small WUOs, those with less than 30 members, can dispense with the need to have a Management Board. In such a case the tasks of the latter are performed by an elected Chairman.
 Finding suitable premises can in itself be a challenge.
 This person is technically a member of the WUO. The legislation does not indicate how nominations to the ballot are to take place, simply that the eligible farmers must elect one of their number to the WUO.
 Although in some countries such as Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania they existed in the period before 1945.
 Which are in one form or another the successors to former collectivised farms.
 Subject of course to the exceptions in the German and Albanian legislation noted above.
 Although it is of course accountable to its electors who may vote to replace it.
 Section 4(1) of the Land Drainage Act 1991 states that: A person shall not be qualified to for election as a member of an internal drainage board unless he is-
 And obviously this is the approach taken in those cases where there is no management board.
 The Chairman represents the association in justice against third parties in all matters concerning the legal personality of the WUO. Article 40, Decree of 18 December 1927.