Circular of the Network for Cooperation in Integrated Water Resource Management for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean

This document from the United Nations offers a great overview of the way nations are confronting the water-related challenges associated with climate change by trying to reach collaborative strategies that are adaptive to changes in environmental conditions.  I think the “open discussion” sections highlights the nexus of a lot of interdisciplinary research calls of late:  there are interactions between changes in weather and climate and societies and the relatively fixed nature of many traditionally engineered infrastructures.  In recent interactions with other professors at the University of Illinois, I have been thinking a lot about engineered flexibility, “soft-path” solutions, and building the social capacity, rule enforcement mechanisms, and constructed systems to allow for these to remain useful.  I’m thinking specifically about the utility of things like decentralized water reuse and water treatment.  Backyard berms, for example, are a great idea, but there is a level of buy-in and maintenance that needs to occur at a household or neighborhood level that makes me skeptical of their long-term success.  Neighborhood turn-over due to a collapsing housing market, for example, would likely undermine system efficacy.  New residents, might choose to use their yards for a different set of ecosystem services.  Recent examples include the movement toward re-installing lawns in Las Vegas.  I have a yet untested hypothesis about homeowner’s associations and other similar agents that make and enforce long-term rules as being more effective in maintaining these systems than neighborhoods with more overt environmental values.  Let’s take Phoenix, AZ as an example…

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