EESS Spring Seminar Series - Jerry Schnoor, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering & Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa
EESS Spring Seminar Series - Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering & Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, "Water Sustainability in a Changing World", Abstract: What is “water sustainability” and why is it so important? Definitions usually involve a long-term view towards water sufficiency. Water sustainability could be defined as clean water availability for present and future generations or, perhaps more precisely, as the continual supply of clean water for human uses and for all other living things. It is does not specify exactly how much water we need, nor does it imply the unrestrained, infinite availability and use of water. Rather, it refers to the sufficient availability of water into the foreseeable future. Water is, after all, a renewable resource, so sustaining its uses should be possible. But it turns out that we can have too much water or too little water to meet our needs. Water availability is constrained by natural processes, water allocations across jurisdictional boundaries, the infrastructure necessary to deliver water for use, and human impacts on water quality and quantity. Various forces affect the nature, timing, and availability of water, which change through time. We call these forces the “drivers” at play in the world today. Water, like all things on planet Earth, is changing. For the most part, these changes are driven by human activities, not nature. Water is changing due to our population growth and migration; it is changing from land use pressures and our energy choices; and it is changing due to a shifting climate. Water scarcity afflicts poor people most seriously, and global development goals are crucial for attaining a semblance of water sustainability in developing countries.