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Water Resources and River Management



[BSc], EES, S

Admission Requirements

Earth Systems Science, Environmental Science, Natural Hazards or any 200-level course in Sustainability (EES), an affinity for the natural sciences.


Are floods and droughts becoming more frequent and severe? Are such hydrologic “disasters” triggered by natural or human causes? What are the implications of climate change to flood risk, agriculture, river erosion, infrastructure, and aquatic ecology? What do these changes in water resources imply to human and biophysical sustainability? The answer to these questions is at the core of modern hydrologic sciences.

Hydrology is an interdisciplinary science that considers the processes controlling the distribution and movement of Earth’s water, as well as its physical, chemical, and ecological interactions with Earth’s surface. The goal of this course is to provide a broad and rigorous overview of the field of physical hydrology and river management within a watershed framework. Specific topics will include climatic controls, runoff and soil erosion, groundwater, channel hydraulics and erosion, sediment transport, flood mechanisms, river and floodplain management, water resources, and global environmental change. Students will be exposed to modern theory and practical methods of hydrologic and geomorphic sciences through lectures, class discussion, and practical assignments.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course the student should be able to;

  • provide a comprehensive and rigorous characterisation of Earth’s hydrologic cycle;

  • employ basic quantitative procedures to calculate indices of streamflow and hydrologic variability;

  • integrate specific subfields of hydrology within a “watershed framework”;

  • understands the consequences of different human impacts to Earth’s surface from the standpoint of water resources and river changes;

  • understand the impact of dams and other human impacts on rivers;

  • develops a strong interdisciplinary understanding of the importance of the river sciences for detecting various types of environmental change;

  • understands the role of hydrological sciences to river management and the broader subject of sustainability.

Mode of Instruction

The course format is dynamic lecture style, with questions and discussion which engage the instructor and students. The educational approach of the course is to introduce and review fundamenal processes and then link these to broader environmental problems and management. Class discussion requires that students have read prior to coming to class so that they can constructively participate in structured and ad-hoc discussion.


In-class participation: 10% (continuous)
Short quizzes: 2 @ 10% each = 20% (Friday of weeks 2 and 6)
Hydrologic lab: 15% (due Friday week 5)
Mid-term: 25% (Friday week 4)
Final exam (Week 8): 30% (TBA)


The required textbook for this course is:Fundamentals of Fluvial Geomorphology (2nd or 3rd Ed), by Ro Charlton. Routledge.

Also, Ruddiman: Earth’s Climate System, Ch. 2 (on BB). Other articles and online readings distributed via LUC Blackboard (technical materials and resources not available in text).

Contact Information

Weekly Overview

  • Week 1 Course overview and Introduction, Hydrologic cycle, water resources, Earth’s general circulation

  • Week 2 Groundwater, Runoff and land degradation (Friday, quiz 1)

  • Week 3, Streamflow, hydrologic data analysis (Friday: lab 1 assigned)

  • Week 4 Sediment transport, impact of dams (Friday: midterm exam)

  • Week 5 River channels, impact of urbanisation on rivers (lab 1 due)

  • Week 6 Floodplains and flood risk, management (Friday: hydro lab due, quiz 2)

  • Week 7 Deltas; Delta Works and coast field trip (half day, plan accodingly), Integration of topics and course wrap-up (Friday field-trip)

  • Week 8 Reading Week: Final Exam