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Water Crisis: Need "Imagineering" Not Just Engineering to Solve Water Security Challenges

Event Type
geography, sustainability, urban planning, water
Geography & GIS
Room 2049 Natural History Building, Russell Seminar Room
Nov 30, 2018   3:00 - 4:30 pm  
Prof. Murugesu Sivapalan, Geography & GIS and Civil & Environmental Engineering
This event is free and open to the public.
M. Sivapalan
Originating Calendar
Geography and Geographic Information Science

Many parts of the world, including parts of the United States and even suburbs of Chicago, are facing severe water crises. Historically engineers and domain experts are tasked with the design and implementation of technological solutions to water problems, such as the building of dams, pipelines and desalination plants. These work well in the short term, but the non-involvement of the beneficiaries of the water works, the people themselves, in the conceptualization and execution of otherwise well-intentioned and well-designed solutions often leads to unintended, often adverse, consequences due to issues not considered in the design of the solutions and due to their non-acceptance by society.

I will illustrate, through several examples of water management problems in Australia, USA, China and Europe, the study of which prompted the launch and substantial growth of the new field of socio-hydrology. I will also put these in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including several related to water, which provide renewed motivation for engineers, social scientists and humanists to come together and work towards developing imaginative solutions for the many water security challenges faced by communities around the world.

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