Water: Systems, Science, and Society (WSSS) will hold its 6th annual water symposium, Fluid Boundaries: Integrated Solutions to Today’s Water Challenges, next Friday, April 3rd at the Jaharis Center on Tufts Boston Campus.
The quality and quantity of available water have implications for human and environmental health. Technological innovation can improve water quality, however, policy and behavior change are often necessary to realize technological potential. This year’s WSSS symposium will bridge the fields of technology, policy, and behavior-change to engage in a dialogue about the use and value of water.
Panel 1: Technology
The ready availability of clean, potable water from home taps belies the fierce competition among uses, such as agriculture, industry, and the maintenance of adequate environmental flows. Consumptive uses put pressure on scarce supplies, but return flows are often compromised in terms of quality, placing increasing strain on treatment infrastructure. Technological innovation – both in conservation and treatment – point the way towards a future where water is valued as the connecting thread between complementary, rather than competing, uses. However, this future is not assured; behavior and policy changes are often necessary to realize technological potential. Together, technological innovation, behavior change and policy form the collective ‘toolkit’ that can help adapt to increasing water scarcity.
Panel 2: Behavior Change
Behavior change is a growing component in water programming in the developing world. This panel will look into the importance of behavior change measures, and will focus on barriers to adoption and other lessons from key water, sanitation, and hygiene programming around the world. With a greater emphasis on community ownership, education, and economic development, behavior change is becoming more intertwined with water and the developmental future.
Panel 3: A Policy Case Study: The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act
In December 2014, congress passed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act, bringing water and sanitation issues to the forefront of international development priorities. Under this act, WASH programs will be included within other development programs addressing a wide range of issues, including food security and gender equality. It also ensures that WASH programs already in existence will be able to access resources and share information effectively. With broad, bipartisan support and strong NGO advocates, this bill promises to change the way the world thinks about water. In the context of the new Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, this marks an important shift in direction towards overall well-being and sustainability.