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 hydrological systems in the world’s growing urban regions. Recent studies estimate that a quarter of the world’s population living in large cities, or 55 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.
Thus, our 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.
Our three-year project examines the global desalination and water reuse corporate and finance sector, analyzes the legal framework for unconventional water production across case study sites, and examines the complex water governance regimes that promote and challenge the transformation of this sector in water-stressed urban regions in Texas, California, Australia, and Israel.
Who funds our research…
We are 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 Fund. For more details of the funded projects, visit the X-Grant program’s website (click here).