Syllabus: Water Sustainability

This is part of our Campus Spotlight on the Global Water Initiative at the University of Virginia.

 

Course Description 

In this course we will explore the dimensions of what “sustainability” and “sustainable development” mean in the context of water use and management. We will examine the different ways in which water is used, valued, and governed, examining sustainability through different lenses and perspectives.

Lectures by global water experts, along with discussion sessions and readings, will provide students with a solid foundation for understanding the water cycle, water budgets, water scarcity, water economics, water governance, and ecosystem services – the building blocks of water sustainability. Lectures on sustainability will span economic, environmental, social and cultural considerations. We will take a close look at the consequences of unsustainable water use, examining a variety of case studies from around the world.

With this background, students will participate in both independent and group assignments designed to deepen their application of sustainability concepts to specific geographies and situations. Emphasis will be placed on developing proposals for a more sustainable water future.

 

 

FOUNDATIONS OF WATER: QUANTITY/SCARCITY 

8/28

  • Orientation, syllabus, expectations
  • Water footprints and water scarcity (Brian Richter)

Homework exercise: Sizing Up Your Water Footprint (Steps 1-4 only!)

Reading: Chapters 1-3 of Chasing Water (Richter)

Water Share (Richter/TNC) pages 1-39 only

 

9/4

  • Water budgets and water tools (Brian Richter)

Reading: Water Budgets to Inform Sustainable Water Management (Richter & Orr)

Chapter 4, Chasing Water (Richter)

Homework exercise: Rebalancing a Water Budget for Sustainability – Step 1 only!

 

FOUNDATIONS OF WATER: GOVERNANCE 

9/11

  • Water governance (Brian Richter)
  • Discussion of videos and team projects
  • Lab exercise: Rebalancing a Water Budget for Sustainability – Step 2

Reading: Carpenter et al 1998

Homework assignment: Begin working on your team project

 

FOUNDATIONS OF WATER: WATER QUALITY 

9/18

  • Water quality and its regulation
  • (Mike Pace, UVA Environmental Sciences, and David Sligh)

Reading: Chapters 1 & 2 of Rivers for Life (Postel & Richter)

Homework assignment: Continue working on your team project

 

FOUNDATIONS OF WATER: PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT 

9/25 

  • Protecting environmental flows (Brian Richter)
  • Lab exercise: designing an environmental flow prescription

Reading: Chapters 5-8 of Chasing Water (Richter)

Homework assignment: Continue working on your team project

 

10/2

Reading: “Water Markets: A new tool for urban water supplies?” (Richter); “Innovations in Groundwater Management: Smart markets for transferrable groundwater extraction rights” (Young and Brozovic); “The Big Dry and Australia’s Water Markets (Debaere); and “Water Markets from an Economic Point of View (Debaere)

Homework assignment: Continue working on your team project

 

FOUNDATIONS OF WATER: ECONOMICS AND WATER MARKETS 

10/9

  • Water markets
  • (Peter Debaere, UVA professor in Darden Business School)
  • Lab exercise: water trading with Richael Young of Mammoth Trading

Reading: Power of Rivers (TNC) Opperman 2016 Hydropower in Myanmar

Homework assignment: Continue working on your team project

 

WATER FOR ENERGY 

10/16

  • Hydropower by Design (Jeff Opperman, WWF International, and Amy Newsock, The Nature Conservancy)
  • Lab exercise: designing a sustainable hydropower system

Reading: “Tapped Out: Growing Cities in Search of the Next Oasis” (Richter et al 2012); “Supplying Water to Cities – Charlottesville case study” (Debaere and Richter)

 

WATER FOR CITIES

10/23

  • Water for cities
  • (lecture: Brian Richter, with Ridge Schuyler, community activist)

Homework assignment: Continue working on your team project

10/30

  • Field Trip to RWSA water supply facilities

Reading: Urban Water Blueprint (TNC)

 

11/6

  • Watershed protection and urban water supplies (Daniel Shemie, The Nature Conservancy)

Homework assignment: Continue working on your team project

 

WATER FOR HUMAN HEALTH 

11/13

  • The global challenge of providing clean water for all (Rebecca Dillingham, UVA professor, School of Medicine; and Jim Smith, UVA Engineering)

Reading: Study for exam!

 

11/20

  • Water competency exam

Work assignment: Continue working on your team project

 

These are syllabi of water courses or courses with significant water content from colleagues affiliated with the Global Water Initiative at the University of Virginia.

Photo: Watering of agricultural crops, countryside, natural watering, irrigation, village | Shutterstock
Published on December 11, 2018.

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