In the face of growing populations and climate change, existing freshwater sources and water infrastructure projects are not sufficient or adequate to address the challenges of urban water insecurity. Inadequate water delivery of acceptable water quality will increase threats to economic activities, human development, and hydrologic systems in the world’s growing urban regions. Recent studies estimate that a quarter of the world’s population living in large cities, or 381 million people, rely on water systems that are stressed. Predictions further forecast that in 2050, 993 million people will live in cities with perennial water shortage, and 3.1 billion urban residents may confront seasonal water shortages despite continued large-scale infrastructure development.
Desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater and wastewater reuse are seen as major technological interventions that can address the increased pressure on water resources in the context of growing global demand for freshwater for domestic and productive uses. While offering new sources of water, critics highlight several impediments to their sustainable implementation and negative impacts across regions and environments.
This three-year Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security project examines desalination and water reuse globally and across case study sites in Texas, California, Australia, and Israel. A key challenge is to identify how new technological interventions can be channeled into pathways towards sustainable water security and, in particular, to consider how anticipatory governance can be fostered to support that process. The interdisciplinary research team will examine several aspects of desalination and wastewater reuse to better understand the complex water governance regimes that promote and challenge the transformation of water-stressed urban regions.
Who funds our research…
Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security is one of eight interdisciplinary research projects sharing $7 million in funding during the first round of Texas A&M University’s X-Grants program, an initiative of the 10-year, $100 million President’s Excellence Grants (X-Grant) program, which aims to unlock creative and imaginative ideas that will address issues that significantly impact the most important challenges facing global society. For more details, visit the X-Grant program’s website (click here).