Search

Compelling Questions for the Future of Water Resource Management

What are our next big and emerging challenges that will influence how we manage our precious water resources in the future?


Are there any silver bullets out there for the coming generations?


If those are burning questions for you, read on, but beware – for those who are practitioners there may be no surprises and for those who aren’t - sorry .... there are no silver bullets.


I am sharing here the results of a survey I ran some 4 years back. I was inspired to do so by a university I work with, and it was also a good collaboration exercise with my team. I personally don't think things have changed in the meantime.


The survey had several questions. I am interested in challenges and solutions so I have reproduced the replies to just two of the most pertinent questions here.


The questions were:

  1. What new grand challenges in the area of water resource characterization, understanding, and management do you envision?

  2. What new technologies (such as computational methods) will impact this field in the next few decades?

With help from a colleague we summarized the responses in some bullets and reproduced them as word maps to visualize better.


What new grand challenges in the area of water resource characterization, understanding, and management do you envision?

  1. No apparent grand ‘new’ challenges, only extensions on existing themes

  2. Top comments and most commonly mentioned themes:

  • Managing climate change, impacts everything, changing weather patterns to sea level change, also a shift to more groundwater usage

  • Water scarcity and over-exploitation, pressures of population increase and heightened demand also as a result of population shifts caused as a result of regional conflicts, deepening water tables requires deeper exploration and exploitation

  • Potential for cross-border conflicts (over resources)

  • Better characterization, including data management and better evaluation tools, practical techniques as well as cheaper

  • Social responsibility and stakeholder management, contributing to improved policy, enhancing communication between institutions, specialists and the public


What new technologies (such as computational methods) will impact this field in the next few decades?


Top comments and most commonly mentioned themes:

  • Software and simulations – more advanced to model more complex systems, coupled models (multi-system and multi-parameter), unstructured grids for groundwater models, better visualization, interpretation and visualization improvements, more computing power

  • Measurements and sampling – subsurface mainly, borehole data, advanced borehole geophysics, online and real time, public access, better visualization tools

  • Data management– improved tools, online and accessible to public, big data and data mining, IT challenges and software

  • Remote sensing

  • Water reuse and water recycling

General comment:

  • Good quality data is essential for models to be of use

  • Existing data acquisition techniques are not bad, improvements can be made in availability and cost

  • Real-time and on-line access are recurring themes

  • Better data management and visualization tools will increase the power of data

Oh, and some statistics on the survey:

- 46 participants

- 14 nationalities

- Age range early twenties to +60

- All water resource consulting professionals

6 views

©2020 by Mine Water.