School of the Environment-University of Toronto

CEM 401- Urban Water Issues

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This course investigates urban water issues from the environmental management perspective. Course content reviews the ecosystem approach to understanding water as a resource, how science, policy, decision-making, ethics, and corporate approaches play out in the management of water in the urban setting. The international perspective explores the response of various nations, regions, and communities in the ongoing struggle for sufficient supply and quality of water in the urban setting against the need to maintain ecosystem health. Additionally, students examine water audits and Integrated Urban Water Resource Management principles (IUWRM).

Introduction
This course will investigate urban water issues from the environmental management perspective.  From an interdisciplinary approach, it will review the ecosystem approach to understanding water as a resource, how science, policy, decision-making, ethics, and corporate approaches play out in the management of water in the urban setting.  The international perspective will be examined through the response of various nations, regions, and communities in the ongoing struggle of sufficient supply and quality of water in the urban setting against the need to maintain ecosystem health.

The course is divided into 10 modules. There are three essential parts to each module.

  1. The required readings, which are listed in the introductory document of each module. Make sure you read these materials early in the week.
  2. The discussion forum to which you have to contribute each week. There may be additional readings required for the topic of the discussion forum. Generally, the discussion forum lags behind the modules by one week. For example, the topic of module 1 will be discussed in the forum of week.
  3. There will be approximately four live chats, which are likely to occur mid-week. This is a chance for you to ask questions and discuss problems with the instructor and your colleagues.

Additionally, there are four assignments (weeks 2, 7, 9, and 10) and one midterm exam (week 4). All assignments are due at the end of the week. Please upload the requested documents before or at that time. The midterm is a 24-hour take-home exam at the end of week 4.

4. The synchronous live chats will occur at scheduled times and provides the opportunity for the class to meet online together to review questions related to the readings, and to provide a more informal basis to discuss course material.

Course Readings
There are no required hard copy textbooks.  There will be different electronic books used in this course. For free access to these and other electronic sources, please go to the University of Toronto’s library website at http://main.library.utoronto.ca/ . If you access these sources from off-campus, you will be prompted to log in with your UTORid for user verification.

Other reading material, such as academic journals, government documents, and reports from relevant organizations will be available through electronic links. These sources are in .pdf format. You can download a version of the free adobe reader at:
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html It is advisable to have all course readings completed at the beginning of the week in which they are assigned.

Water covers 70% of the world’s surface and is essential to all living forms on the earth.  It has historically been considered an infinite resource by humans. Since the advent of agricultural approximately 10,000 years ago, human population numbers have been rising dramatically.  With the rise of complex societies over the last 500 years and the move of a major of the world’s population into urban settings, understanding urban water issues is critical. Current consumptive lifestyles and ecosystem altering technology have dramatically impacted on water resources. While the international community has affirmed the human right to water in a number of international treaties, declarations, and other documents, water shortages and quality are on the increase in both developed and developing nations.

This course will investigate urban water issues from the environmental management perspective.  From an interdisciplinary approach, it will review the ecosystem approach to understanding water as a resource, how science, policy, decision-making, ethics, and corporate approaches play out in the management of water.  The international perspective will be examined through the response of various nations, regions, and communities in the ongoing struggle of sufficient supply and quality of water in the urban setting against the need to maintain ecosystem health.

This course aims to provide students with a comprehensive overview on the many different aspects of urban water.  The ultimate goal of this course is to give student the necessary background knowledge to evaluate urban water issues from an interdisciplinary ecosystems approach. Through course readings, discussions, and assignments, students will become familiar with important historical and current topics related to urban water.

By the end of this course, the students will:

  • Understand the principles of the hydrological cycle
  • Understand the benefits and limitations of basic policy and politics in the challenge of urban water
  • Know the environmental impacts of urban water usage and ways of mitigation
  • Know the key organizations that study, regulate, and manage urban water in both developed and developing nation settings
  • Understand how water audits are carried out
  • Understand and be able to employ Integrated Urban Water Resource Management principles (IUWRM)
  • Understand the variability of the business response to urban water issues

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