Post-water urbanism

[I’ve been slowly crafting this post over a few months as a possible lecture – so this is just a first draft and maybe a manifesto for a future studio.]

Peak Water is very real and probably the most dire environmental issue facing civilization. Yeah, sea level rise has catastrophic implications, but the climate weirding with projected decreases of precipitation in already arid zones is what will quickly kill or displace the most folks around the world. We’ve already seen the genocide in Darfur as the 21st century’s first water war and many more conflicts like this are likely.

Q Drum water container

The loss of snowpack in the Himalayas, Sierra Nevadas, Rocky Mountains, Andes, and Mt. Kilimanjaro is already disappearing along with glaciers around the world. Many cities in India are already on the verge of running out of water. Much of the poor societies in the Middle East (such as Yemen and the Palestinians) don’t have access to the energy (or money) for desalination.

Water Stress Map

There is an old saying in the west is ‘that water runs uphill to money’. We’re already seeing cuts in irrigation in the Central Valley of California and redistribution of that water to the cities. With the looming collapse of the Sierra (& maybe the Rockies) snowpack, there will be even less water available for irrigating traditional agricultural land in the west – the only reliable source of water will be found in the cities. Water recycling will become the new status quo and perhaps large scale agriculture will move into the cities to tap this vital resource.

Will this shift be handled through wide deployment of Haegian edible estates? or maybe the model will be more of sky vegitables placing greenhouses and roof farms above every grocery store and big box retailer?

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