Sustainable Resources and Water Management

March 7th, 2013 – Seminar 5

Group Members:
Desiree Rantala, Ashley James, Rob Freeman, Tanya Kapelus, Wei Zou, Bhumjun Cho, Emily Bews, Samantha Garret, Milan Code

Harmon, Rob. “How the Market Can Keep Streams Flowing.” Ted Talks, November 2010.

This particular video lecture is given at a Ted talks seminar by Rob Harmon in which he discusses the issues and catalysts that impose the disintegration and drying up of various bodies of water. One particular catalyst that he discusses is senior water rights, in which holders are required to use a certain amount of water otherwise they lose that right all together. This in turn obviously has negative and unnecessary implication upon our bodies of water, forcing holders use it when they don’t need to and in turn, diminishing water sources altogether.
As this has become a realization, companies are pursuing strategies to limit their water footprint. For example, at the Prickly Pear Creek, the water right holders are paid to leave their water in bodies while still managing to maintain their rights. This in turn reduces the negative repercussion and maintains a reasonable and effective strategy in pursuing a better footprint as a result.

Reading :
Liau, Kuei-Hsien. “A Theory on Urban Resilience to Floods – A Basis for Alternating Planning Practices.” Ecology and Society 17 (4): 48

The article analyzes resistant and resilient measures that are taken when approaching flood issues. Typically, a city is designed with resistance strategies using series of levees, dams, channelization etc. Although they are common, the article discusses how these strategies are harmful to surrounding areas and effects the socio-economics of the urban situation in a negative way. As an alternative, the article directs the attention towards resilient strategies, which is argued as a better approach for long term flood management because its more specific to that environment and its conditions. As the article suggests “the development of the theory of urban resilience floods is an attempt to enrich the existing body of resilience theory through focusing on a specific type of system with a specific problem.” The strategy begins with better practice and innovations with building typologies such as waterproofing, stilting, and floating structures. The article then takes a more in depth analysis on two specific types of resilient approaches, being engineering resilience, and ecological resilience. Engineered resilience refers to a structures ability to “bounce back” (repair itself) over time to its original condition after being exposed to strenuous conditions (flooding). Ecological engineering is the more preferred method, and refers to the level of change that a system can undergo and its ability to survive and adapt without needing a complete renovation of the regime.
In summary the discussion is how to catalyze the transformation from resistant to resilient. Disasters catalyze social transformation whether we like it or not, so the focus must focus on resilient strategies, as transforming by choice becomes much cheaper and socio-economically smarter.

Proposed Discussion:

What is a reliable source to long-term flood safety?
(There was a large amount of questions asked and proposed so I have selected the one I feel strongest about).

What city sets a good example for flood adaptation?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
As discussed in the article, I think that resilient approaches are the way to go when considering long term flood safety. Just as the article discusses but in a complete different fashion, it compares resilience to sustainability. Although the comparison in the article is based on the fact that their definitions are loose and undefined, I see both terms connected in the sense that they are both directly correlated with climate change and further, disasters. The way we have come to fabricate our urban situation is only promoting climate change and at a larger scale, so even if we were to design with resistance, the degree of ‘aggression’ of these disastrous situations will continually become stronger and overcome our ‘constructed barriers” that are designed to resist against previous disasters.
For example, we can look here in Winnipeg in which we have taken resistant measures to address annual seasonal flooding. This system is the floodway, in which we continually are expanding it yet agricultural land is still continually subjected to the repercussions of floods. The strategy may dilute the extensity of damage from the flood, but none the less there still is damage and the cost and time it takes to repair keeps getting higher and higher. With this being said and following up on the second question, Winnipeg is not a good example.  Bangkok I believe is to be a good example even though many may think otherwise. The reason I say this is not based on the technology that they have introduced but the strategies they have implicated with the economic situation that their in. Bangkok is subjected to large scale floods and have taken low cost measures to propel both resistance and resilience to protect their urban fabric. They have created T-groins to break the impact of waves on their land and reduce damage, expanded and walled the river that runs right through the center of Bangkok to divert their floods to that body of water and have begun to construct their homes and structures on stilts. Obviously they are not a rich country, but they have taken careful considerations and measures in using resources that make most sense to their condition and economy. This in turn comes back to the article when it suggests that strongest strategies are ones that are specific.


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