Mega-hydraulic projects tend to produce severe social and environmental impacts, with burdens and benefits unevenly distributed among different social groups, regions, and scales. This triggers socioenvironmental conflicts, since “territory” has incommensurable functions and values for the diverse parties. This article examines the dominant human-nature interactions that underlie recent hydropower developments and the reconfiguration of the hydrosocial network in Colombia's Sogamoso basin. We use the Echelon of Rights Analysis (ERA) to examine conflicts over hydrosocial patterning, involving struggles over resources, norms, authority, and discourses. The Sogamoso mega-project highlights how modernist policies discursively frame clean energy, sustainable development, and public utility, while breaking up existing socioecological relationships and aligning water users, rights, and uses in new hydro-political network hierarchies. In Sogamoso, hydropower development discourse ends up declaring local subsistence activities illegal while denying existing rights frameworks. Therefore, crucial questions about water rights, legitimacy, and justice remain unasked and unanswered within political arenas.

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