Research

Managing Global Water Supplies

Managing Global Water Supplies

The management of water resources is a source of potential conflict all over the world, particularly where supplies cross a number of political boundaries. Newcastle University has earned a global reputation for applying solid science to help bring about resolutions to these issues.

Water is an essential natural resource that shapes landscapes, ecosystems and economies and is vital for human survival.

As a resource, it has never been under more pressure, with demographic, economic and global climatic changes adding increasing stress to supplies.

The research and expertise of scientists and civil engineers at Newcastle University is proving invaluable. Helping governments around the world prepare for flooding and drought, managing agricultural pollution and planning sustainable water management. 

Assessing the Nile

The Newcastle team was contacted by the World Bank-funded Nile Basin Initiative to provide the first impartial assessment involving all riparian countries of the Nile basin, one of the world’s most complex and difficult to manage trans-boundary river systems.

They used advanced data management and modelling tools to establish how much water is in the Nile, as well as its flow and the impact of human interventions.

The quality-assured data formed part of a new decision support system, providing the foundations of a new shared approach to water management by the nine countries on the banks of the River Nile.

Science solves practical problems

Dr Geoff Parkin, Senior Lecturer in Hydrology, said: “When a river crosses many national boundaries it will inevitably involve many political, social and economic issues which can be extremely challenging to resolve.

“The foundation of better management of international river conflicts lies in understanding the full picture of what is happening naturally with the water resource before considering what the impact of human intervention will be. We introduce solid science to help solve difficult practical problems – that is where our team really excels.”

Role of forests

In Latin America, research by the team has been consulted by several countries including; Argentina, Ecuador, Chile and Costa Rica.  They helped them to understand the role of forests in environmental protection against extreme rainfall and snowmelt.

In Argentina, the problems and solutions identified during the European Commission EPIC-FORCE project led by Newcastle University, were included as priorities in a national water resources plan.

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Contact Information

Dr Geoff Parkin
Email: geoff.parkin@ncl.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6146

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