It is hard to escape hearing or reading about major problems that are arising all over the world, including right here in Texas, about "blue gold" --that is, water. These problems involve significant demands for greater access to water (quantity and its diversion: welcome to Dallas and Las Vegas!); failures to protect water quality at the source (aquifers, reservoirs, rivers, and streams); the improvident management of urban, suburban and rural supply and demand; and hazardous or wasteful consumer practices, to name just a few. Concerns are also mounting about water uses by and for humans that conflict with the protection of species and habitat not our own, including those on which we depend for food.
These issues are driven by complexities that include chronic drought and other adverse, predictably worsening weather conditions; deteriorating infrastructure; and budgetary constraints that could become severe.
We will study a number of these issues, each in a particular context, together with a sample of the inventive responses that are just now being tried out, litigated over, devised as political solutions, mounted as popular campaigns, or academically proposed. Observing, understanding, and learning how to critically evaluate the relationships between the problems at hand and the responses that they are generating will be our primary task. In some instances, water problems here in Texas will turn our state and locality into our living laboratory and we will have local experts join us for the discussion of these.
This is a writing seminar. There will be a research paper requirement, with topic permission from the instructor, in lieu of an exam. You may use this seminar to satisfy the upper-class writing requirement.
There are no prerequisites for this course.