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The Columbia Water Center, in collaboration with other Earth Institute units and external partners, is leading intellectual inquiry into the assessment, understanding, and resolution of the global crisis of freshwater scarcity.

Our mission is to creatively tackle the issue of global water scarcity through innovations in technology, public policy and private action. Combining the rigor of scientific research with the impact of effective policy, we aim to design reliable, sustainable models of water management and development that can be implemented on local, regional and global levels. The Columbia Water Center, in collaboration with other Earth Institute units and external partners, is leading intellectual inquiry into the assessment, understanding and resolution of the global crisis of freshwater scarcity.

Why Water?

As worldwide populations grow and affluence increases, the demand for food and water is on the rise. At the same time, climate variability and change are making it difficult to provide water where and when it is needed. Floods destroy communities in one part of the world, while in another people trek miles every day just to get enough water to survive. 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.

What We Do

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

A landmark $6 million grant from the PepsiCo Foundation for the study of water sustainability around the world provides the foundational support for the center.

The Water Centers work is founded on the principle that meaningful improvements in water quality and access depend on resolving increasing water shortages. The greatest improvements in water sustainability stem from concentrating on the sector with the greatest consumption the agricultural sector. Much of our research, therefore, focuses on improving efficiency of agricultural water use, especially in the developing world where water problems are most prevalent.

The Water Center aims to provide rigorous, research-based knowledge as the foundation on which to make informed policy decisions about the management of water systems. The Water Center strives to change one-dimensional approach to water and instead study watersheds holistically.

In addition to research, the Water Center both sponsors a seminar series featuring talks on water-related issues, and develops educational opportunities, such as an internship program and water-related courses.

People

  • G. Unger Vetlesen Professor Emeritus of Earth and Climate Sciences, Professor Emerutus of Applied Physics and Applied Math, Special Research Scientist in the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
  • University Professor
  • Alan and Carol Silberstein Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering and of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Director, Columbia Water Center in the Earth Institute
  • Professor of Mechanical Engineering
  • Maurice Ewing and J. Lamar Worzel Professor of Geophysics and Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, Chair, Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Associate Director, Earth Institute