Seminar 5: Sustainable Resources – Water Management

Seminar members: Desiree, Ashley, Rob, Tanya, Wei, BJ, Emily, Samantha, Milan

Article 1: Liao, Kuei-Hsien.  A Theory on Urban Resilience to Floods – A Basis for Alternative planning. Ecology and Society 17(4): 48.


Reuters. People hold umbrellas in a flooded street in Wuhan. China Daily. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

  • Liao, in his theory, argues about the low amount of resilience that cities have toward flooding. 
  • The development of dams, levees, or any flood infrastructure which keeps water at bay does not truly allow cities to be prepared for flooding, they instead serve as shields which simply push the matter aside. Come the time any breaks happen in these flood infrastructures, the city is left completely vulnerable. The development of such infrastructures also greatly alters the natural landscape which is already equipped with flood-protectors.
  • City development and housing infrastructures should work with water flow, be it through the development of floating houses, houses on stilts, or waterproof houses
  • Engineering resilience: concerned with how to better equip structures to maintain stability under adverse environmental conditions
  • Ecological resilience: how much can we change a system before switching to a completely new method of action? A matter of developing all of the possible outcomes and choosing the best one in terms of the nature and human needs.

Article 1 Discussion: What are the pros to flooding? How can flooding be implemented in a positive way?

  • spreading nutrients
  • hydropower
  • raising houses on hydraulic systems
  • there is not a lot of research done into methods to mitigate flooding, or particular ideas are simply too expensive to put into action (such as houses on hydraulics)

Video: Harmon, Rob. “How the Market can keep the Streams Flowing.” TED Talks. November 2010.


Big Sky Fishing. Musselshell River Running Dry at Ryegate, Montana. Big Sky Fishing. JPG. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

  • Rivers and streams are drying up due to overusage, and senior watertight holders are losing their rights because they cannot provide the minimum amount of water required to keep their land to shareholders. Harmon puts forward a water dispersal system that gives water back to the rivers to help curb this problem and promote proper water usage.

Article 2 Questions:

  1. What is a senior water right? When the longest property holder on the river system has a proportionately large ownership of the water that flows in that particular river
  2. Two problems with how Rob Harmon’s system regulates water use: need to use water to maintain the water right and it encourages you to take as much water out as you can
  3. How many pints of water does it take to make a pint of beer? 100 if you include the water it took to grow the grains and without that it takes 5.
  4. Who gets paid to do what? And what are the incentives involved? A water use intensive company pays a senior water rights holder to not use his or her water right so it gives a financial incentive to keep the water in the river system.

~ by sbrodick on April 18, 2013.

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