New graduate course on Water Resources Economics offered by executive director of the Water Institute

Thursday, January 4, 2018

In the 2017 fall term, the Department of Economics offered Waterloo’s graduate and undergraduate students a new elective course on Water Resources Economics (ECON 484/673). The course was developed and taught by Economics professor and executive director of the Water Institute, Roy Brouwer. According to Brouwer, although water economics has been around as a research topic, offering it as a full academic course is relatively new. 

“The University of Waterloo is the only university in Canada offering such a specialized course in water resources economics,” said Brouwer. “Only very few universities worldwide offer such a course.”

Brouwer designed Water Resources Economics using real-world examples from different countries and continents, addressing the economics of some of the major global water management challenges, including climate change and water scarcity, flood risks, dam building in large transboundary river basins and water pollution.

dams in Niger

Dams in the Niger basin. ECON 484/673 students had to complete a paper assignment and a presentation on the dams in the Niger basin.

“The course aims to familiarize students with the specific characteristics of water resources and how economic methods and models can be applied to address these water specific characteristics and inform water policy and decision-making.”

Special attention is paid to water resources valuation, water pricing and water markets, including payments for watershed services. Through a water game, students learn how to use different surface and groundwater resources under normal and drought conditions in a sustainable and economically optimal way over time.

students at wastewater treatment plant in kitchener

Brouwer and his students visiting the newly upgraded wastewater treatment plant in Kitchener. Hard hats and protective glasses were courteously provided by Brouwer’s Water Institute colleagues in Waterloo's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

In September, Brouwer took his students to the newly upgraded wastewater treatment plant in Kitchener to learn about the construction, operation and maintenance costs of a major wastewater treatment plant upgrade, and to learn about anticipated water quality improvements.

“Many of the students had not been to a wastewater treatment plant and I thought this would be an excellent opportunity for them to have a hands-on learning experience touring the facility and talking to the plant managers.”

Students were given a presentation about the investment costs of upgrading the wastewater treatment processes by plant managers Trevor Brown and Jorge Cavalcante.Students were given a presentation about the investment costs of upgrading the wastewater treatment processes by plant managers Trevor Brown and Jorge Cavalcante.wastewater treatment plant employees giving a talk to Waterloo students at wastewater treatment plant

Students were given a presentation about the investment costs of upgrading the wastewater treatment processes by plant managers Trevor Brown and Jorge Cavalcante.

A total of 23 students enrolled in the inaugural offering of ECON 484/673, including several students from Waterloo’s Faculty of Science and Faculty of Environment. Given the interest in the course, the Department of Economics and Brouwer expect to offer the course again in fall 2018 term.

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