1. Primer on Hydrology, Water Consumption, and Hydrologic Resilience

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the basic concepts of hydrology and water consumption as they relate to urban droughts and water resilience.

Key Concepts

Basic water cycle, water consumption, water resilience

1. A basic primer on watershed hydrology and water balances

There are many key concepts regarding biophysical aspects of water and water management. These include how to understand aquifers, connections between aquifers and streams, evaporative loss, consumptive and non-consumptive losses, and effluent-dominated streams – all necessary for water management. We then examine drivers of water scarcity in the Global South- a problem that may grow worse if you don’t improve water management. These drivers include not only climate change, but also rapidly growing urban and especially unorganized peri-urban populations in drier parts of the world, and increasing wealth in the Global South, with concomitant increase in water demand, illustrated by a hydrological twist of Maslow’s Triangle.  The idea of water resilience is introduced, illustrated conceptually for the case of a hypothetical drought, in cities with various levels of water resilience and robustness follow disparate pathways of recovery.

Finally, the last slides focus on our increasing ability to acquire, transmit, process and store hydrologic information may transform water management. Is it possible that these technologies could enable the Global South to leapfrog over Western approaches to water management, developed in the low-information 20th century, much like the communications leapfrogging that occurred in the past 20 years with widespread market penetration of cell phones in areas that never had land lines? Could these new technologies help to create water resilience even in drier, poorer areas, even in the face of climate change?

2. Primer on Hydrology, Water Consumption, and Hydrologic Resilience


Key Readings

Key Readings

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
These are open-ended questions, for either group discussion or your own meditations on the mountain top, with the goal of developing your ideas on water resilience. On the drought resilience graph, the X axis is not labeled.

  • What metrics do you think would be helpful to quantify "resilience"?  What types of changes occur during a drought, and what does "water resilience" mean?
  • Regarding the Maslov Triangle for water use (slide 12), are there other water uses that should be included?  What types of industries in your city use a lot of water?  How might you use this concept to prioritize water allocation during a drought?  You might want to answer this question after studying the Water Equity and Peri-Urban modules.
  • Slide 20 illustrates the use of modern digital technology for hydrologic management.  Given that most of the world has now acquired cell phones, and many now have smartphones, what apps could you envision to manage water in your locale?

Further Readings

Further Readings

  • Baker, L. 2018. Situating urban drought resilience: theory, practice and sustainability scienceIn: Sustainability Now! Sustainability How? Situating Sustainabilities through Interdisciplinary and Social Justice , edited by Julie Sze, NYU Press.

Other related International Waters Lessons and Submodules


Next submodule: Water Contaminants

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