5. Resources: Water

Welcome to the unit Resources: Water

The unit is intended to introduce students to the concepts, and principles of sustainable water utilization, and introduce some of the threats which tend to counteract the sustainable availability of potable water not only for domestic and industrial use, but also for maintenance of a healthy environment throughout the industrialized economies of the world as well as developing regions of the world.

The unit of necessity is very practically orientated. Therefore, an appreciable amount of time will need to be spent identifying the basic principles and finding solutions that match the context of the problem (NB The aim of the unit is NOT to train hydrologists, but to identify practical solutions to problems threatening sustained potable water. The detail in the unit will need to acknowledge this context). The unit traces water on the earth by dividing it into the main components & acknowledging that, at present, desalination of sea water is not a viable option. This logically leads to the hydrological cycle and the dominant forcing factors governing the quality and quantity of water. These are then considered individually in terms of their characteristics, and the threats posed by human activity while still giving due consideration to the need for economic and industrial advances to continue at the local, regional and national scales.

The unit considers what potential impact is associated with the range of human-induced problems and activities, emphasizing again the concept of cost – benefit analysis in which the environment (clean water) AND labour and economic wellbeing are included. The impacts of the same list of  elemental ores used in the mineral & mining resources sub-units will be considered, and how these impacts may be similar (or different) in the four partner countries. These are: Cu; Co; Ti; Fe; Si; Sn; Li and Al, as well as stone, aggregate, oil and coal.

The spatial nature of these problems at the local and region impact level will be interrogated using GIS, RS and geological maps.

The main objectives of this unit are:

  • To introduce students to a fundamental understanding of the distribution of water as a limited resource across local, regional and national/international frontiers;
  • To understand the water cycle and to understand the threats posed by many of the activities we take for granted, in particular domestic supply, agriculture and mining activities; and
  • To focus on the environmental context of water as a limited resource in need of conservation and management that is steeped in modern technology, as water availability and quality is increasingly presenting limits to further economic and industrial development

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

In this unit, you will be able to

  • To discuss the implications of water as a resource, and the range of environmentally compatible technologies available to safeguard it;
  • To understand some of the complexities around the distribution and abundance/scarcity of water, and to view the environment as an equal, necessary consumer of water as an essential resource,
  • To be able to make decision that take cognisance of the threats and challenges posed by global climate change and variability to the water sector; and
  • To be able to contribute significantly to project planning initiatives, and to understand the water conservation needs as an integral part (rather than an add-on) in all development projects.

You should therefore be able to:

  • Appreciate the importance and complexity of water as a resource, and the need to use it in sustainable ways;
  • List the main threats facing water as a finite, limited world resource
  • Summarize the main factors and processes influencing the water cycle and to describe their inter-connectivity and feedback mechanisms;
  • Describe and account for the main sources and limitations to fresh water in different regions on earth, and how this is likely to vary in space and time within the context of global climate change and variability;
  • To be familiar with the principals, processes and consequences for both natural and human-induced degradation of water quality, and to recognize when intervention/rehabilitation is necessary, and

To understand and describe the common causes that may result in the pollution of water, as well as the consequences and potential rehabilitation strategies required.

Please Note

Students may add to these notes by addition reading, both from library based literature, as well as that found in scientific journals, whether in print or on-line. It is also useful to keep up to date with material offered by Google-Scholar. It is important to differentiate this refereed site from the standard internet sites, which are free-to-post. This means that opinions, rather than facts are published; irrespective of whether they are substantiated or not.