What we know and the optics of what we know about water security in the Anthropocene

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups: Water Resources Specialty Group, Africa Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM (PST)
Room: Virtual 17
Organizers: Thomas LaVanchy, Meghan McCarroll, Hillary Hamann
Chairs: Thomas LaVanchy


The achievement of water sustainability across the world hinges on a foundation of water knowledge. As Malin Falkenmark identified on the occasion of the 1977 UN Water Conference, “The basis for all our efforts toward a more intelligent use and maintenance of the global water resources is knowledge and widespread use of such knowledge in the approach to practical problems.” (Falkenmark 1977: 9)

In the Anthropocene, this knowledge is increasingly fundamental for societies and water managers to cope with the changing spatial-temporal patterns of freshwater availability. These changes require both collective and individual commitment toward education and practical action, particularly in urban contexts that face growing and competing demands for water at risk from warming, reduced snowfall and snowpack, and threat of recurring drought. If cities are to become water sensitive in the new normal of the Anthropocene, communities must necessarily be open to changes in policy, practice and technology. The optics of water knowledge are equally important for the key role they play in creating perceptions of water scarcity, shifting water narratives, and ultimately, progressing towards protection of our water resources.

For this paper session, we would like to shed light on the various needs, opportunities and forms of water knowledge and the optics that strengthen or weaken positive change.

We invite contributions that:
● Theorize frameworks about water knowledge and water knowledge optics
● Analyze awareness and action about water scarcity
● Investigate natural barriers to water knowledge
● Present case studies from diverse world regions
● Examine the role of different actors in creating, impeding, or communicating water knowledge

To be considered for inclusion in this session, please email an abstract (250 words or less) and presenter identification number (PIN) to thomas.lavanchy@okstate.edu or meghan.mccarroll@du.edu by November 10th. This session will either be fully virtual or hybrid (partially in-person, partially online) depending on preference of the presenters. For more information about the AAG conference, please see: https://www2.aag.org/aagannualmeeting/


Falkenmark, Malin. “Water and Mankind: A Complex System of Mutual Interaction.” Ambio, vol. 6, no. 1, 1977, pp. 3–9. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4312233.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Hillary Hamann*, University of Denver, Water literacy: What we know about water 15 1:30 PM
Presenter Michael Kerwin*, University of Denver, G. Thomas LaVanchy, Oklahoma State University, Meghan McCarroll, University of Denver, How a three-year drought nearly depleted Cape Town’s water supply: Implications for water security in the Anthropocene 15 1:45 PM
Presenter Meghan McCarroll*, University of Denver, Michael Kerwin, University of Denver, Thomas LaVanchy, Oklahoma State University, Tourism Water Literacy & The International Optics of Cape Town's Day Zero 15 2:00 PM
Presenter Thomas LaVanchy*, Oklahoma State University, Michael W Kerwin, University of Denver, Gregory J Kerwin, attorney, Meghan McCarroll, University of Denver, The optics of ‘Day Zero’ and the role of the state in water security for a township in Cape Town (South Africa) 15 2:15 PM

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