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scaling water projects

“In the 20th century, humanity achieved huge feats of water engineering, taming wild rivers, redesigning entire watersheds, and creating farmland from desert. But evidence has begun to mount that massive manipulations of water are not worth their costs. Huge dams have destroyed ecosystems and human communities, often waste as much water as they gather, put countries in unsustainable debt, and inevitably silt up, becoming useless, often before they have even been paid for. Other massive schemes have their own problems; desalination plants are expensive and produce toxic byproducts, while big pumping projects deplete aquifers.

“Is human ingenuity useless in solving water shortages? Those who study the issue think there is still hope. The problem may be in scale; it was the mega-projects that failed. The most exciting solutions are small. All over the world, engineers, potters, and even children are coming up with inventions that are cheap, simple, locally attuned, and sustainable."



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