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Sunday, March 29 • 9:00am - 10:30am
Session 4 Paper Stream 2: Hydrology and Urban Infrastructures

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Session 4 Paper Stream 2: Hydrology and Urban Infrastructures 

Drew Eppehimer: "Water Scarcity, Urban Growth, and Human Rights: Implications for the Arizona/Sonora Borderlands"
The intersectionality of water scarcity, urban growth, and human rights was explored using the border community of Ambos Nogales (in Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora) as a case study. This location is marked by the transboundary Santa Cruz River (flowing North) and by the transboundary, alluvial aquifers associated with this basin, which necessitate binational management over these shared water resources. Through an examination of historical and legal documents and extensive interviews with key contacts, past, present, and future tensions over the quality and quantity of transboundary water resources were illuminated. 

Global market reforms and international free-trade agreements have eroded rural economies in Mexico and have driven migration to cities, which has been further fueled by the establishment of maquiladora factories along the border. In Nogales, Sonora, already-scarce water resources within the Sonoran Desert have been drawn even thinner by increasing municipal and industrial demand. The results have been the disappearing above-ground flows of the Santa Cruz River due to groundwater overdraft, the dewatering of adjacent basins due to interbasin water transfers, the contamination of water due to improper industrial waste and sewage disposal, and the creation of large-scale colonia squatter communities that lack access to municipal infrastructure. Access to clean water and adequate sanitation are human rights, rights that many of these colonias struggle to maintain. Future efforts to provide these critically important human rights, however, will further increase water use and complicate current issues of supply.

The present situation in Ambos Nogales calls for greater collaboration between and understanding among water managers, policy makers, and activists on both sides of the border. This research indicates that informal cross-border partnerships have greater positive impact than overarching formal treaties, due to interpersonal relationships and the ability to adapt to changing needs, and that lasting change needs to be advanced by a diverse “ecology of actors.” This research also indicates that infrastructure maintenance and demand management (“soft path” approach) are needed as opposed to currently favored supply-side management strategies. Continued technical and monetary support for Nogales, Sonora will be key to addressing sustained population growth, the promotion of human rights, and uncertain futures of climate change.

Elizabeth English: "Amphibious Architecture: Where Flood Risk Reduction Meets Climate Change Adaptation" 
There is increasing awareness worldwide that traditional flood-mitigation strategies that alter the environment and create concentrations of risk, such as levee-building, only increase the probability of catastrophic consequences of failure in the long run. Amphibious construction is an alternative flood mitigation strategy that allows an otherwise ordinarily terrestrial house to float on the surface of rising water whenever flooding occurs. Buoyancy elements installed beneath the house provide passive flotation to lift the house, and a vertical guidance system returns the house to exactly its original position upon descent. 

Amphibious architecture rests lightly on the earth and works in synchrony with a floodprone region’s natural cycles of flooding, allowing water to flow rather than creating an obstruction. Since the height to which an amphibious building rises is not fixed, but accommodates the depth of the rising water, amphibious structures have the additional benefit of taking both changing sea levels and subsidence in stride. 

There is growing awareness that homeowners in established neighborhoods are resistant to elevation strategies that disrupt a neighborhood’s appearance and cause daily inconvenience, especially when there is no assurance of adequate protection in an extreme event. Certain types of existing buildings can easily be retrofitted with amphibious foundations, encouraging the preservation of established and historic neighborhoods and their architectural character. Amphibious housing has been successfully implemented in rural Louisiana since the mid-1970s, and in both the Netherlands and New Orleans during the last decade. Amphibious pilot projects have also recently been completed in Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, France and the UK. Research is currently in progress to develop amphibious housing in Canada, Nicaragua, the Caribbean, the Philippines and elsewhere around the world. 

The presentation will review case studies of existing and proposed amphibious buildings, with discussion of their systems and components. It will also discuss the limitations of amphibious construction, some of the regulatory obstacles that have discouraged its development, and possible paths forward. It will demonstrate that for a limited set of appropriate applications, amphibious construction is an adaptive flood risk reduction strategy that is both more effective and less expensive than any of the current alternatives. 

Gabriel Lubell: "Water Infrastructure and New Music as Agents of Environmental Awareness" 
Infrastructure for controlling the flow and availability of water has taken on many forms, always in response to local needs, geography, and climate. The resultant edifices are generally built on a massive scale, making them imposing additions to the local landscape. Conscious of this fact, the people responsible for their design have frequently included elements intended to be attractive, stimulating, and inviting. Such an embrace of the visual impact made by water infrastructure draws attention to the role of water in our daily lives through direct means. This, in turn, has given these structures cultural and spiritual significance in spite of their functional origins. The combination of practical, aesthetic, and social worth inherent to infrastructural landmarks suggests that an artistic reflection on the subject could yield deep insights into one’s personal relationship with water and the technology necessary for its use in daily life. In collaboration with the Amsterdam-based Intercontinental Ensemble, I am in the process of composing a work for nonet that will musically interpret and juxtapose three historic landmarks of water infrastructure that dynamically explores these ideas. The landmarks to be considered are visually, geographically, and functionally disparate: the Chand Baori stepwell in arid northern India was engineered to retain water; the Catskill Aqueduct delivers clean water from distant points of origin to New York City; and the Ir.D.F. Woudagemaal actively pumps water out of the low-lying Friesland province of the Netherlands. The resultant musical dialog will provide a unique alternative means for encouraging critical engagement with issues of water use and conservation. In contrast to traditional modes of increasing awareness, the composition will attempt to connect on sensual and experiential levels. Sonically abstracting each place provides listeners with a new personal space in which to imagine the mechanics, social and health ramifications, and importance of water both in their own lives and globally. In addition to celebrating these technical achievements of infrastructure, the work also exemplifies the extraordinary challenges a society must overcome in order to maintain a healthy relationship with water – challenges that have yet to be solved in many parts of the world. 


Beth Weinstein

Beth Weinstein is an architect whose scholarship and design practice focus on intersections between architectural and choreographic and other performance practices, ranging from the scale of the drawing board to scenographic environments, theater architecture, urban space and landscapes... Read More →


Elizabeth English

Elizabeth C English. Ph.D., is currently Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Cambridge, Ontario. She was formerly Associate Professor - Research at the LSU Hurricane Center and has held Assistant and/or Visiting Professorships at Tulane University... Read More →

Drew Eppehimer

Drew Eppehimer is a graduate student at Arizona State University pursuing a Master of Justice Studies within the School of Social Transformation. His diverse academic and professional involvements largely revolve around fresh water. Eppehimer’s current research focuses on the binational... Read More →

Gabriel Lubell

Gabriel Lubell (b. 1983) is a composer of musical esoterica, a term here used to include works for string quartet, orchestra, elevator, carillon, computer, voices, and other such things. His music has been performed in Italy, Sweden, throughout the United States, and was recently... Read More →

Sunday March 29, 2015 9:00am - 10:30am
Art 220 900 S. Forest Mall Tempe, AZ 85281

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