78596 - Sustainable Design of Water Resources Systems

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Clean water and sanitation Affordable and clean energy Climate Action Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Students of this course will learn advanced methods for the design of water resources systems. The main focus will be (1) the estimation of water resources in the presence of human impact and climate change, (2) the estimation of water demands, and (3) the evaluation of alternative solutions for reconciling the availability of water resources with the increasing water needs and the preservation of ecosystems and the environment. Decision theory will be considered as an effective and transparent means to evaluate competitive solutions, while uncertainty assessment will provide the basis for a pragmatic design. The joint analysis and modeling of water resources systems and societal systems will be the driving concept of the course.

Course contents

The course focuses on the emerging problem and challenges related to the sustainable and resilient use of water resources, by referring to recent research development and scientific information.

The teacher will adopt an innovative approach to learning, which makes extensive use of interaction with students. Accordingly, students will be given the optional opportunity of delivering presentations to the class and the public, developing software, preparing open source contributions to be published on the web, substitute the final assessment of learning with a continuous time and interactive verification. The educational approach adopted by the teacher takes the technical application as the central thread of the lectures. An intensive interaction with the students will be established through web based discussions (see also https://www.albertomontanari.it/?q=node/155 and https://www.albertomontanari.it/?q=node/60. An example of tutorial is given at https://www.albertomontanari.it/?q=node/286).

The lectures include: (1) an introduction to the assessment of water resources availability in different regions of the world, (2) rainfall-runoff modeling for the estimation of river flows to support the design of water resources systems under human impact, (3) assessment of water resources under human impact as an innovative tool to project future scenario of development, (4) Climate change and water resources, (5) integrated modeling of water resources systems and societal systems and related risk, (6) decision theory for water resources, (7) Salt water intrusion.

Computer based exercises will be developed which will focus on technical applications.


The teacher will prepare dynamic documents to support the learning process, which will be made available in the form of an open e-book, which may be open to interactive contribution by students (see https://www.albertomontanari.it/?q=node/286).

A further suggested reading is the book:

Water Resources Systems Planning and Management: An Introduction to Methods, Models and Applications by Daniel P. Loucks and Eelco van Beek with contributions from Jery R. Stedinger, Jozef P.M. Dijkman, Monique T. Villars, freely available at http://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/2798http://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/2798

Teaching methods

Students should preliminarily possess knowledge of open channel hydraulics and basic hydrology (estimation of extreme rainfall, estimation of peak river flow with simple approaches, river flow routing).

The course is taught through lectures. Part of them are dedicated to the solution of practical water resources management problems, that are developed at the computer.

Assessment methods

The preparation of the student will be assessed through an oral colloquium whose duration is about 30 minutes. The student may present at the exam a brief report of the exercises that were developed during the course. Students are asked to reply to 3-4 questions focusing on the topics that were treated during the lectures. Students may be asked to solve a short exercise. The exam is passed if the student proves to be prepared on the theoretical principles and analytical derivations that were taught during the lectures. The teacher will explicitly mention to students during the lectures what are the basic questions that one needs to rigorously address in order to pass the exam. The speaking capability will also be evaluated but it is not a cause of failure. The laude is reserved to students who are excellently prepared and prove to have integrated their preparation with personal in-depth analysis.

Students may profit from interactive activities that will be proposed during the letures, which may be considered when determing the final mark of the exam.

Teaching tools

The teacher will made available notes on his personal web-site. Scientific papers will be distributed during the lectures as well as summaries of recent research outcomes.

Lectures will be delivered with the physical presence of the teacher and will also be made available via online streaming.

Moreover, the teacher makes available videos of the lectures (see https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzpKSIoIBFCPdGQF00knL4s0H4qyV3ltW).

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Alberto Montanari