Confronting the challenge of water shortages

Indian woman pouring water into a large bowlAs the climate rapidly heats up, we can expect yet another collateral damage: water. This summer, Chennai, the sixth largest city in India extinguished their water supply. Next year, Day Zero — a concept originating in Cape Town where water taps run out of water — is predicted to occur in 21 Indian cities. However the problem is far from unique to India as water shortages are quickly becoming a problem many countries around the globe grapple with, including Iraq and Spain. Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Cape Town are also cities that have, or are predicted to face, water shortages in the coming years. With the looming challenge in mind, two Arizona State University faculty members co-directed an idea that has blossomed from a simple water exercise to a collaboration with a lot of potential. Senior Sustainability Scientists Marco Janssen, director of the Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment and Adriene Jenik, a professor of intermedia in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, initiated the “Drylab2023,” an experiment that purports to show what a future with water shortages would look like and how people would respond. As the challenges of conserving water grow, the experimental module has morphed into more of a training scenario than just an experiment.