Water Infrastructure and Management in Cities and Megacities

The work of a former student of mine, Nina Shea, is being featured at the International Water Week Conference being held in Amsterdam next month. The title of her paper is “Predictive Modelling of Regional Water Management and Adaptation in Urban Areas”, and is part of the “Tools for Integrated Water Management In Future Cities” session. The abstract reads:

The world faces challenges in terms the provision and management of fresh water. This problem is likely to be aggravated in the future due to regional changes in supply and demand. Growing urban centres pose particular challenges to water management strategies and infrastructure. Uncertainty in future climate and other relevant variables adds significant complexity to the problem. This project developed a model to addressing the issues of water management in urban regions, and assessing current and future resilience for one or more given cities in the face of these changes. The tool allows for dynamic modelling of, for example, adaptation strategies and behaviour. Results provides insight into tipping points, threshold effects, implementation cutoffs, and costing of alternative of adaptation strategies at the city and regional level.

Nina is one of several students from my group at Cambridge over the past few years that has been working on better ways to understand and manage conflict and consensus in the [water] commons, and the implications for/feedbacks effects with engineering (e.g. infrastructure) design and investment. Nina’s case study datasets was based on the emerging Chinese ‘megacities’. Among other things, her paper demonstrates how relatively simple rules/models can lead to both predictable and highly non-linear/counter-intuitive results.

The IWW Conference Programme runs from November 4th to the 13th. The conference theme this year is “Integrated Water Solutions for a Green Economy”. I will also be attending as will another former student of mine.