As reflected in past essays, I consider it useful to think about our serious water challenges as wicked problems. Wicked problems are complex, and addressing them can be complicated by factors such as poverty, climate change, and geopolitics. There is rarely a single solution to a wicked water problem; rather, pathways to solutions must be considered. Discussing our myriad water challenges in the context of wicked problems helps temper expectations that there will be quick fixes and explain that it will take much cooperation, study, and innovation, as well as resources (time and money), to tackle them. The complexities associated with finding solutions to wicked water problems were underscored at two December 2022 conferences I attended. The first, the United Nations (UN) Groundwater Summit, held in Paris, focused on groundwater-related aspects of achieving Goal 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG6): ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The second conference, held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, was the annual meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA), where the implications of low Colorado River flows and storage were discussed.
January 6, 2023
Weekly Wave, vol. 11, no. 1, Water Resources Research Center, Tucson, AZ, January 6, 2023