Creating a Global Database of How Different Populations within Cities are Dependent on Freshwater Ecosystem Services

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Award Year: 
2012
Principal Investigator: 
Robert I. McDonald, The Nature Conservancy
Deborah Balk, City University of New York Institute for Demographic Research and Baruch College

  
By 2050, there will be an additional 2.8 billion people living in urban areas globally. Meeting the demand of cities for water will be a challenge for human-created infrastructure as well as for the natural ecosystems. However, where this challenge will be hardest to meet and the severity of potential shortages is still not fully known for most of the world’s cities. Indeed, there is no consistent global dataset of where and how cities obtain their municipal water supply (e.g., surface versus groundwater, near versus far away), nor where the urban poor, who often do not have reliable access to municipal supplies, obtain their water. Without this basic data, it is impossible to estimate urban populations’ dependence on freshwater ecosystem services (e.g., from the watershed above a reservoir), or the potential impact of climate change on these services. We propose a Pursuit that will create such a database. Our first meeting will be a workshop, inviting experts in the fields of ecology, hydrology, demography, urban planning, civil engineering, and economics to help design the database structure so that it will answer key policy-relevant questions. We will also ensure that the experts invited have access to the major extant national or regional databases of urban water use, so we can begin to synthesize these datasets. Subsequent meetings by the core Pursuit team will coordinate actions to finish the database assembly and begin using the database to answer key scientific research questions and craft high-impact manuscripts.

Participants: 
Joseph Ariwi, McGill University
Deborah Balk, City University of New York
Scott Biernat, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies
Tim Boucher, The Nature Conservancy
Audrey Dorelien, University of Michigan
Katie Fitzgerald, The Nature Conservancy
Martina Floerke, Center for Environmental Systems Research
Francis Gassert, World Resources Institute
Yonas Ghile, Stanford University
Pamela Green, City University of New York
Guenther Grill, McGill University
Misty Herrin, The Nature Conservancy
Bernhard Lehner, McGill University
Robert I. McDonald, The Nature Conservancy
Mark Montgomery, Population Council
Julie Padowski, Stanford University
Paulo Petry, The Nature Conservancy
Carmen Revenga, The Nature Conservancy
Brian Richter, The Nature Conservancy
Christof Schneider, Center for Environmental Systems Research
Charles Vörösmarty, City University of New York
Michael White, Brown University
Jacqueline Young, The Nature Conservancy

Resources:

Resource Title Brief Summary
Water on an urban planet: Urbanization and the reach of urban water infrastructure Jul 01, 2014

Article published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

Global analysis of urban surface water supply vulnerability Oct 06, 2014

Article published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Urban Water Blueprint Dec 01, 2014

Urban Water Blueprint analyzes water risks worldwide and recommends conservation solutions.

Estimating Watershed Degradation Over the Last Century and its Impact on Water-Treatment Costs for the World's Large Cities Aug 09, 2016

Article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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