Why? Because water is our most precious resource.
Water touches nearly every facet of our lives. We rely daily on a clean and reliable supply of water for drinking and cooking. We use water to grow the food we depend on. We create energy with the water that falls high in our watersheds. Too much water can negatively impact our lives by flooding; not enough water can lead to droughts and famines.
In many places, fundamental information about the amount, location, and quality of water is lacking. Moreover, this makes it is impossible to know how all these are changing over time and space due to natural or human activities. The lack of information about water resources has several undesirable outcomes. We aim to develop the information necessary for wise stewardship of water resources, while at the same time making a difference in peoples lives.
Good information is not sufficient for wise water-energy-food resource policy and management decisions, but it is most certainly necessary. Additionally, data accuracy, transparency, and availability is essential. Data collected by SmartPhones4Water will be available to the public via an intuitive map based web interface.
Water, food, and shelter are the three necessities for human life. Energy is the life blood of the modern world. Water, food, and energy are all connected and interchangeable to some degree. We can use water to grow crops and produce food. Or, we can use energy to import food for the water we lack (i.e. importing “virtual water” (Alan 1998)). We can use water to make energy, or we can use energy to move water. Similarly, we can use food to make energy (e.g. ethanol or biodiesel), or we can use energy to move food. In most economies all of these interchanges occur in a variable manner over both space and time. The environment encompasses the Water-Food-Energy nexus in that, without a sufficiently healthy environment, our use of water, energy, and food ultimately becomes unsustainable.
Developing an understanding of current water quantity and quality, and how both quantity and quality changes over space and time is foundational for wise management of the water-energy-food nexus.