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Water Resources Management

Course Outline
Course Logistics:

Time: check here

Place: check here

Rich Delaney Director
Urban Harbors Institute
Univesity of Massachusetts/Boston

Martin Pillsbury
Metropolitan Area Planning Commission

Office hours: By appt. before and after class.

Course Texts: tba

Administrator: Roger Stern, Executive Director, Marine Studies Consortium; Phone: 781-444-3643; Email: rjstern at

For Possible Cancellations (due to inclement weather):
check Weather Alert. Cancellations will also be aired on WCVB Channel 5 and announced by voice message at 781-444-3643

Purpose of course:
This course is designed to stimulate students' interests in the field of water resources from an environmentally sustainable perspective. The focus will be on the resources themselves--their functions, values, and effects upon them from human management and policy. Four water resources areas will be highlighted: rivers, wetlands, groundwater, and marine resources.

Course Format:
Within a resource-based context, four policy issues and related management techniques will be presented. Each policy issue and management technique will be illustrated by a specific water resource example.

Resource Area Policy Issue Management
Rivers Protection vs use Streamflow controls
Wetlands No net loss Watershed regulations
Aquifers Prevention Land use controls
Marine Water Quality Legal, political & Institutional

Each resource area and policy issue will be presented in a multiple-class unit which provides:

  • Description of the resource
  • Functions and values of the resource
  • Human use and impacts on the resource
  • Policy issues
  • Management techniques
  • Case study

Several of the units will feature guest speakers who have knowledge and experience through public agencies or non-profit advocacy organizations.

Course Objectives:
This course will give students an understanding of water resources management and protection as a public policy problem. Students will learn:

  • How to define the problems
  • Data and technical expertise that are needed to solve problems
  • How to understand the political and institutional context of water resources protection and management
  • How to develop and implement tools to achieve policy objectives

Questions and Issues to be Addressed:
  • boundary definitions: how to delineate resource areas.
  • How to structure
  • Protecting and managing uses:
    - How do water resources function? (natural ecosystems)
    - How can human needs be met in an environmentally sustainable way?
    - How can conflicting natural and human needs be accommodated (multiple uses)?
    - How to understand and respond to changing circumstances and needs.

Students' Responsibilities:
  • complete each week's readings prior to the class session (readings to be purchased at cost of copying from the instructors)
  • complete one written assignment
  • make one oral presentation to the class
  • complete a final take-home exam
  • participate in class discussions and exercises, and be creative and have fun!

25% for the oral presentation
25% for the written exercise
50% for the final exam

Student Assignments:
  1. Requirements: Each student must prepare one written assignment and one class presentation. Each project should demonstrate understanding of a water resources issue (rather than a recitation of facts), and an ability to communicate that information. Ideas should be carefully organized and concisely presented in one of the format options listed below.
    In addition, students are required to attend a Library Intensive Component at the Brandeis Science Library, which provides instruction on research tools and data sources to be used in the preparation of the written and oral assignments. This will be scheduled during one of the regular class sessions.

  2. Menu of Format Options: Students are strongly encouraged to structure their assignments in a format other than traditional academic term papers. Choose from the following menu of format options, or suggest one of your own. Each format option provides an opportunity to use a different communication skill. Choose the options which interest you and will help you develop skills which will be useful in your professional or academic life.
    • testimony for a public hearing (legislative, regulatory agency, local government)
    • issue or policy paper (white paper) from an advocacy group
    • environmental impact statement for a development project
    • press conference or press release from an agency or environmental group
    • article for a planning, scientific, or legal journal
    • newspaper or magazine article
    • ription of a school (K-12 grade) class project or curriculum
    • article for an engineering or natural science textbook
    • agency or organization newsletter
    • visual presentation (graphics, drawings)
    • video presentation or documentary piece
    • short story or magazine article
    • other format to be approved by the instructors

  3. Length: Written assignments should be approximately ten typed double-spaced pages for undergraduate students, and fifteen pages for graduate students. Class presentations should be planned for 15 minutes maximum.

  4. Scheduling and due dates
    A short (one page) project proposal describing the topics and your treatment of them for both the paper and class presentation must be submitted to the instructors by the third week of class.

    FINAL EXAM (Take Home)
    The take home final exam is an exercise which requires you to synthesize what you have learned throuhout the semester and apply this knowledge to a particular issue. Drawing on knowledge gained from the readings, class discussions, and presentations, identify a problem or a gap in water resources policy, science, or management tools. Then propose an approach to solvingt the problem or filling the gap. The final take-home exam should follow the following format and inlclude each of these sections:
      Part A: Describe the problem or gap in detail, including:
    • Statement of the problem or gap
    • Description of the context (what is and is not known about the problem)
    • Description the value (why is it important to fill the gap)

      Part B: Describe an approach to solving the problem or filling the gap:
    • Give a summary of the solution
    • Describe the elements of the solution in detail (who does what?)
    • Describe a strategy for implementing the solution (how?)

    Length: Final exams should be 10 to 15 pages for undergraduate students and 15 to 20 pages for graduate students.

    Due date: Final exams are due on the last class session. Exams should be submitted to the instructors in class.

    Policy on Incomplete Grades
    Students are eligible to receive a grade of incomplete only if circumstances beyond the student's control prevent the student from completing required course work. To receive an Incomplete Grade, the instructor, student, Consortium Board Member at the student's home school (if the student is from a member school) and a Consortium staff member must all agree that such circumstances exist. Agreement is reached when all parties listed above have signed an MSC Incomplete Grade Contract (form available from the Marine Studies Consortium). The Contract must include a description of the circumstances surrounding the request for an incomplete grade, a list of all the work to be made up and the time by which it will be completed. The student must submit the signed Incomplete Grade Contract to the instructor by the last class meeting.

    If the student is unable to complete the required work within the time stipulated in the Incomplete Grade Contract, s/he will receive an F for the course, or be required to retake the course. In no case shall a student be granted more than six weeks beyond the end of the semester to complete the course work.

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