A Research Companion to Water Transitions around the Globe
Edited by Dave Huitema and Sander Meijerink
Dave Huitema and Sander Meijerink 1.1 Water management: a field in flux Water is a resource that man cannot do without. The functions it fulfils for humans range from direct support of our biological systems and of agriculture, to serving as a repository for waste, as a medium for recreation and as a political and cultural symbol, to mention some of the most important. Given its indispensability to humans it is no surprise that managing water, taking care that users have a sufficient amount of the necessary quality at the right time, has preoccupied human societies since they formed. Obviously, methods of water management have changed considerably since human beings began to intervene in the natural water cycle. The field of water management continues to be in flux. Climate change has brought predictions of an increase in extreme water events and of rising sea levels (see for example, Easterling et al., 2000; Vellinga and Van Verseveld, 2000; Cabanes et al., 2001; Gleick at al., 2001; Alley et al., 2005). Serious flaws in the traditional engineering approach to water management have become clear in the past few decades, including the massive social and ecological damage caused by dams (see for example World Commission on Dams, 2000; Gleick, 2003; Stone, 2008). There has been much poorly planned development in arid and semi-arid areas, which has increased demand for water and resulted in considerable, often unanticipated environmental effects (see for example Schlesinger et al., 1990; Genxu and Guodong, 1999; Turner et al., 2007)...
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