Courses : Syllabi : 574
Geography 574 Water Resources
Water is vital to the functioning of both regional economies and ecosystems. Population growth, climate change, pollution, and persistent poverty all present challenges for the management of water resources. What are the major problems facing water resources in different regions of the Earth? What are the consequences for human health, food production, and ecosystems? What should be the roles of different management strategies such as dams, groundwater development, adaptive management, and integrated basin management? This course will include multiple ways of viewing water as a resource, including hydrology, ecology, socioeconomics, politics, and history. We will cover water resources modeling in urban and agricultural environments, climate change impacts on water resources, water in international economic development, and water quality.
The main question of the course: Is there a water crisis? The overall goal of the course is to begin to construct a theory of water resources problems and management. Elements of this theory will include the science of hydrology and aquatic ecosystems, and management paradigms that allow for learning in an uncertain environmental system. Common themes will include the role of uncertainty, learning in complex systems, and the importance of scale in identifying and addressing problems of water quality and quantity.
Your grade in this course will be based on the following elements:
- Homework Papers: 30%
- Class Discussion Leader: 15%
- Responses to readings: 15%
- Research Project: 40%
The three homework assignments will combine quantitative and qualitative analysis, and will critically
address questions relevant to water resource analysis and policy.
For quantitative analysis components of the labs, there will be several computer labs during class lecture on select Fridays in the SAL Lab. The dates and times of these labs will be announced at the beginning of the week.
Each student will be responsible for leading two class discussions about a reading for the week. Students will be evaluated on their preparation to lead the discussion. In some cases two students will co-lead.
The responses to readings are very short (1 paragraph) typed summaries of and responses to readings that
identify 1) the main question posed, 2) the methods used to answer that question, 3) the main answer to the
question and 4) the student's response to the reading. They are designed to focus reading and prepare
students for the in-class discussions.
There are a total of 14 weeks of reading; the student must hand in one response per week, but may miss four for a total of 10 responses required for full credit.
Each week has more than one reading. The student chooses one reading for their response for the week.
The research project is designed for the student to go into greater depth on a topic and river basin of their choice. The student may meet with the professor in advance to discuss project ideas and to obtain feedback.
Grading will be the standard 90-100 A; 80-90 B; 70-80 C; 60-70 D; 0-59 F
Books and Materials
Required: Pearce, F. (2006), When the Rivers Run Dry: Water—the Defining Crisis of the 21st
Century, Beacon Press, Boston.
Additional articles will be posted on Blackboard
|Week One||Introduction to global water resources and water resources problems|
|Week Two||Water cycle and water accounting|
|Week Three||Water and health: Critical examination of Malthus|
|Week Four||Urban water in CA|
|Week Five||Urban use of groundwater: Quality|
|Week Six||Water balance, agriculture, and poverty|
|Week Seven||Hard Path: Dams|
|Week Eight||Soft path: Water productivity, water harvesting, virtual water|
|Week Nine||Integrated water management
Salt and pollution
|Week Ten||Allocation strategies|
|Week Eleven||Overview of ecosystems and water|
|Week Twelve||Climate change; snow|
|Week Thirteen||Uncertainty, values, and adaptive management|
|Week Fourteen||Colorado River Delta; Video and discussion|
|Week Fifteen||Video and discussion|