EARTH 277 - Water in the 21st Century
Section: 001
Term: WN 2019
Subject: Earth and Environmental Sciences (EARTH)
Department: LSA Earth & Environmental Sciences
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Water sustainability is the number one challenge of the 21st century. Freshwater is the most critical natural resource we have. Without clean water there is no life. Each day, thousands of people die due to lack of potable water. Freshwater scarcity in already highly stressed arid and semi-arid areas of the developed and developing world is likely to worsen as global climate change intensifies, and population growth continues. It will further threaten food availability and security in vast areas of the developing world. Meanwhile, the development of a global economy together with unprecedented levels of growth experienced by emergent countries are forcing the world to adapt to increasingly large amounts of waste production and thus, to increasing amounts of potential surface and groundwater contaminants. Simultaneously, the developed world has to accommodate increasing levels of nuclear waste while adapting to the presence of new, emerging water contaminants, as well as the more commonly found pathogens and fecal organisms. Emerging contaminants include antibiotics, hormones, and other pharmaceutical drugs that originate from multiple sources, including waste water released from outdated sewage treatment plants. One goal of this class is to provide students with a solid understanding of basic principles governing groundwater dynamics, its interaction with surface water, and the functioning. A second goal is for students to become more aware of the most challenging current and future water issues the world faces. A third goal is for students to gain an in-depth understanding of the importance of preserving surface and groundwater resources, from both over-extraction and contamination. This class also discusses current work and initiatives carried out by the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), UNESCO and UN international water programs, including their efforts to map, evaluate, and manage trans-boundary aquifers. Research and experimental work on virtual water trading is also discussed. Special attention is given to current and future water challenges in the Great Lakes.

Course Requirements:

Required attendance, two or three exams, group project, one oral presentations, field trip to the Ann Arbor treatment plant (collecting water samples for analysis of pathogens and pharmaceuticals). There is no textbook for a class such as this, so multiple sources of information will be used. Topics may evolve over time depending on current world developments, such as water-related events around the world.

Intended Audience:

Freshmen and Sophomores

Class Format:

3 hpw lectures plus a visit to one of the Ann Arbor water treatment facility plants. Informal discussions during classes and also after each group presentation.

EARTH 277 - Water in the 21st Century
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
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