REPORT ON A DECADE OF CUTTING EDGE RESEARCH: “We plan to work with partners to shape the future of America’s Water as a global example for climate resilience, and assured and affordable water supply,” stated Dr. Umanu Lall, Director of the Columbia University Water Center (December 2018)

Note to Reader:

Founded in January 2008, the Columbia Water Center (CWC) is committed to understanding and addressing both the role and scarcity of fresh water in the 21st century. The CWC was established for the purpose of studying the world’s diminishing levels of fresh water and creating innovative sustainable and global solutions. 

Given its pervasiveness and the need for local action, water scarcity is becoming one of the most difficult challenges we need to address in the 21st century.

In its ten-year report, the Columbia Water Center provides a detailed overview of the past decade of its research projects and impacts on water challenges across the globe

Envisioning the Future of Water in the United States

“When the Columbia Water Center was conceived in early 2007, we never imagined that the journey over the next 10 years would be as intense, exciting and impactful as it has turned out to be. The initial mission at launch was to study, assess, understand and improve global water sustainability. It was one of the first academic efforts at a Global Water Initiative,” wrote Umanu Lall, Director of the Columbia Water Center, in the introduction to A Decade of Cutting Edge Research.

“We begin the second decade with our cross hairs on America’s Water Infrastructure. America was once the standard bearer for water and wastewater services. Today, the state of the infrastructure and the emerging risks posed to society due to its failure are mounting.

“We plan to work with partners to shape the future of America’s Water as a global example for climate resilience, and assured and affordable water supply.”

Columbia Water Center’s signature initiative, the America’s Water project, collects data on water availability and usage patterns, flooding and drought history, infrastructure vulnerabilities and more for every county in the nation.

About Umanu Lall

Dr. Umanu Lall is Chair of the Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering at Columbia University. He has broad interests in hydrology, climate dynamics, water resource systems analysis, risk management and sustainability. He is motivated by challenging questions at the intersection of these fields, especially where they have relevance to societal outcomes or to the advancement of science towards innovative application.

He has been engaged in high level public and scientific discussion through the media, the World Economic Forum, and with governments, foundations, development banks, and corporations interested in sustainability. He has served on several national and international panels. He was one of the originators of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, and is a past President of the Natural Hazards Focus Group of the American Geophysical Union.

As he explained in a recent issue of Columbia Engineering, for Professor Upmanu Lall, “the goal of engineering is to develop solutions to societal problems.” Over three decades as a hydrologist, Lall has focused on the societal problems associated with water: from severe water shortages that are expected to occur in one-third of the developing world during this century, to the relationship between global water systems and climate variability and change, to the interlinked risks and opportunities of the water/energy/food nexus.

To Learn More:

Download a copy of A Decade of Cutting Edge Research.

In the video below, Upmanu Lall talks about water’s role in the economy, as well as the challenges and opportunities of managing water as a resource.