In the coming decades, water will be the central issue in global economic development and health. With one in six people around the world currently lacking access to safe drinking water (1.2 billion people), and more than two out of six lacking adequate sanitation (2.6 billion people), water is already a critical factor affecting the social and economic well-being of a sizable proportion of the world's population. However, with the world's population projected to double in over the next fifty years, and with rapidly dwindling water supplies becoming both more scarce and more volatile as a result of global warming, we are likely to face a water crisis so severe it will reshape everything from our governance structures to our modes of economic and agricultural production to our patterns of social interaction. Water will be the axis around which all public policy revolves.
In light of the centrality of water as a current and future public policy issue, this course explores innovative and sustainable solutions for water harvesting and distribution to address the challenges presented by anthropogenic climate change. The field of water harvesting and delivery has generally considered water supplies to be fairly stable, available to be sourced in the same places. As a result, water infrastructure management has traditionally been concerned with efficient methods of water sourcing, delivery, and purification, and with effective methods of cost-recovery for those services. In this course, we will step out of this conventional framework and look at water provision from a new vantage point: instead of taking water supplies as a constant, we will look at how water sources are changing as a function of global warming and increased population pressures, and then will ask what implications these shifts are likely to have for water sourcing and water distribution.
This course is offered in alternating years.