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New Water & Urban Water Security II

Type: Paper
Theme: AAG Climate Action Task Force
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group, Water Resources Specialty Group, AAG Climate Action Task Force
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM (MDT)
Room: Virtual Track 3
Organizers: Gretchen Sneegas, Wendy Jepson, Amanda Fencl
Chairs: Gretchen Sneegas


In the face of growing populations and climate change, existing freshwater sources and water infrastructure projects are not adequate to address the challenges of urban water insecurity – particularly adequate water delivery or quality. Desalination and wastewater reuse are seen as major technological interventions to address the increased pressure on freshwater resources from growing urban demands and climate change. These technological advances are making unconventional water production a viable and cost-effective competitor for traditional sources. Critics, however, highlight several impediments to their sustainable implementation: increased water prices, cultural non-acceptance, reliance on technical expertise, pollution outflows, energy demand and costs, and environmental justice concerns.

Critics and proponents tend to consider these interventions as monolithic technologies that can be grafted onto existing hydro-social, institutional, and governance systems. We seek to problematize this view by considering desalination and wastewater reuse as socio-technological systems that intersect and are co-produced in place with local water systems, contexts, institutions, scales, and capacities in distinct ways. From our perspective, the complex nature of water-producing technologies such as desalination and wastewater reuse should not be considered a priori as a panacea to water insecurity in growing urban areas; nor should it be a priori considered an unsustainable, techno-environmental fix. Rather, we approach these technologies as socio-technological systems that reconfigure hydro-social relations in new ways. Thus, our challenge is to identify how new technological interventions can be channeled into pathways towards sustainable water security and urban water transitions.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Discussant Joe Williams Durham University 15 9:35 AM
Presenter William Delgado*, University of Texas - Austin, Timothy Beach, The University of Texas at Austin, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, The University of Texas at Austin, Solar Rich and Water Poor: The Case for Solar Desalination in El Paso, Texas 15 9:50 AM
Presenter Shruti Syal*, University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign, A Social-Ecological Systems Framework Analysis of Infrastructure & Service Provision in Urban 'Slums' 15 10:05 AM
Presenter Sydney Beckner*, Texas A&M University, Sustainable Urban Water Security: A Case Comparison of El Paso and San Antonio, Texas 15 10:20 AM
Presenter Robert Greer*, Texas A&M University/ Bush School of Government and Public Service, Kyungsun Lee, Texas A&M University , Water Infrastructure Financing and the Role of Public-Private Partnerships 15 10:35 AM

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