Human population growth and development is placing increasing demands on fresh water resources for drinking, agriculture, industry and sanitation, all of which has major impacts on the global environment, as well as our social and economic well-being. Half of the world’s wetlands have already been lost to development or drainage for agriculture, many of the major aquifers are being over-pumped and some of the planet’s large rivers are seasonally disconnected from the sea. Much of the world’s water problems stem from systemic and institutional failure to effectively manage water resources and to balance human needs with the requirements of nature to sustain biodiversity.

Effective sustainable water resource management requires appropriate understanding of the system and accurate assessment of the resource available. In the process a sound knowledge of the uses made of water, competing demands for the resource, the full ecosystem services provided by water resources, and the complex interdependency between water, biodiversity and human well-being is essential. Using science a more realistic evaluation of the needs and environmental costs can be made, leading to a more effective translation into policy and action for sustainable management of resources.

This module will provide students with a core knowledge and understanding of the science and theory underpinning sustainable water resource management. Complementary practical skills in water resource assessment and “soft path” measures applied in water resource conservation and sustainable management will form an important part of developing sector-relevant competency.