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Special Issue "Sustainable Water Management: From Ancient to Modern Times and the Future"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Resources and Sustainable Utilization".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 11557

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Vasileios Tzanakakis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, School of Agricultural Sciences, Hellenic Mediterranean University (HMU), P.O. BOX 1939, GR 710 04, Heraklion-Crete, Greece
Interests: quality of soil and water resources; wastewater treatment with land treatment systems; effluent reuse in agriculture.
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Mohammad Valipour
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
Interests: remote sensing; climate change; evapotranspiration; irrigation and drainage; big data; best management practices; hydrometeorology; hydroclimatology; hydroinformatics; hydrological forecasting
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Andreas N. Angelakis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
National Foundation for Agricultural Research, Institute of Crete, Greece. (Retired)
Interests: wastewater treatment and water reuse; small and decentralized wastewater management systems; water technologies in ancient civilizations

Special Issue Information

Thales assures that water is the principle of all things; and that God is that mind which shaped and created all things from water.                                                                                   

Marcus Cicero (106-43 BC) said that about Thales of Miletus (624-546 BC)

Water has played a crucial role since the beginning of human history on earth. Since prehistoric times, people have always needed to be near reliable sources of water. The first organized human communities developed on riverbanks only in the late Neolithic times (ca. 4500–3200 BC), in Mesopotamia on the banks of Egypt’s River Nile, in the Indus River valley, and along China’s rivers. As farming developed, grain agriculture became more sophisticated and prompted a division of labor to store food between growing seasons. At that time, the first successful efforts to control water flow (dams and irrigation systems) due to food needs were implemented in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India/Pakistan, and China. There is also some evidence of irrigation and drainage channels in Ancient Iran (ca. 5220–4990 BC). Some of the ancient water technologies, such as qanats, are still in use. Urban water supply and sanitation systems appeared at a later stage, in the Bronze Age (ca. 3200–1100 BC), mainly in Minoan Greece and the Indus Valley.

In historic times (ca. 1000 BC-330 AD), water and wastewater technologies were highly improved by the Greek civilizations and, later on, by the Romans, especially regarding their scale. Sustainability, as a design principle, has more recently entered the engineering lexicon in Europe and the USA. It is important to know how historical information can help us to meet sustainable development in the future. Presently, global warming, climate change, and the water crisis, in addition to the growth of human population around the world, are big challenges. These challenges highlight the importance of water resource management to meet sustainable agriculture in the future.

This Special Issue of Sustainability, focused on the evolution of sustainable water management, aims to address the abovementioned aspects. More specifically, we call for manuscripts which deal with sustainable water resource management practices in both urban and rural regions, and regulations and policies which could contribute to improve sustainability. The papers that address past, present, and future challenges of water resource management and represent solutions with regard to sustainability in either agricultural or urban water management are also welcome.

The main themes include but are not limited to:

  • Onsite and decentralized water and wastewater treatment systems;
  • The role of water reuse for integrated water resources management;
  • The role of regulations in sustainable water management;
  • Water supply and wastewater treatment and reuse in future cities;
  • The role of planning and policies in sustainable water management;
  • Relevance of the ancient water technologies with modern day water resource sustainability;
  • Agricultural drainage for sustainable water management;
  • Managing river flows towards sustainable water management;
  • Water pollution and emerging pollutants/contaminants;
  • Water pollution and tourism development;
  •  Wastewater management technologies from the past to the present;
  • Lessons of sustainable water management from ancient to modern times and the future;
  • Water practice issues related to sustainable resource management;
  • New topics on sustainable water resources: virtual water and water footprint;
  • History of sustainable water resources;
  • Learning from ancient water management towards sustainable water management;
  • Ancient roots of modernity based on hydrotechnologies;
  • Challenges and opportunities of the water–energy nexus;
  • Sustainability of ancient water control technologies through the centuries;
  • Water harvesting structures: past, present, future;
  • Evolution of sustainable water resources management;
  • The role of climate change and variability of sustainable water management;
  • The impact of uncertainty on sustainable water management in future;
  • Extreme events and sustainable water management;
  • Designing a scientific framework for sustainable water management;
  • Sustainable agriculture with respect to water resources management.

Dr. Vasileios Tzanakakis
Dr. Mohammad Valipour
Prof. Dr. Andreas N. Angelakis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Application of the Water–Energy–Food Nexus Approach to the Climate-Resilient Water Safety Plan of Leh Town, India
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 10550; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910550 - 23 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1370
Abstract
Climate-resilient water safety plans (CR-WSPs) have been developed as a risk-based approach to ensure a safe drinking-water supply while addressing the increasing stress on water resources resulting from climate change. Current examples of the application of CR-WSPs show a strong sectoral approach that [...] Read more.
Climate-resilient water safety plans (CR-WSPs) have been developed as a risk-based approach to ensure a safe drinking-water supply while addressing the increasing stress on water resources resulting from climate change. Current examples of the application of CR-WSPs show a strong sectoral approach that fails to explore the potential synergies between other climate-sensitive sectors related to water, such as food and energy. This can increase the vulnerability or decrease the overall resilience of urban systems when planning climate change adaptation measures. In this work, the Water–Energy–Food (WEF) Nexus approach was applied in the formulation of a CR-WSP in Leh Town, India, a city with rapid development and population growth located in the Himalayas—one of the most sensitive ecosystems to climate change. The WEF Nexus approach was applied in the system description using a critical infrastructure approach and in the formulation of scenarios for risk management which exploited intersectoral synergies through water reclamation with resource recovery using constructed wetlands. The improvements in WEF security and risk reduction were demonstrated through indicators and risk mapping with geographical information systems (GISs). The methods for integrating the WEF Nexus approach in CR-WSPs provided through this work can serve as a base for a trans-sectoral, resilient approach within risk-based approaches for water security. Full article
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Article
Similarities of Minoan and Indus Valley Hydro-Technologies
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4897; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124897 - 16 Jun 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2352
Abstract
This review evaluates Minoan and Indus Valley hydro-technologies in southeastern Greece and Indus Valley Pakistan, respectively. The Minoan civilization first inhabited Crete and several Aegean islands shortly after the Late Neolithic times and flourished during the Bronze Age (ca 3200–1100 BC). At [...] Read more.
This review evaluates Minoan and Indus Valley hydro-technologies in southeastern Greece and Indus Valley Pakistan, respectively. The Minoan civilization first inhabited Crete and several Aegean islands shortly after the Late Neolithic times and flourished during the Bronze Age (ca 3200–1100 BC). At that time, the Minoan civilization developed fundamental technologies and reached its pinnacle as the first and most important European culture. Concurrently, the Indus Valley civilization populated the eastern bank of the Indus River, its tributaries in Pakistan, and the Ganges plains in India and Nadia (Bangladesh), spreading over an area of about one million km2. Its total population was unknown; however, an estimated 43,000 people resided at Harappa. The urban hydro-technologies, characteristics of a civilization can be determined by two specific aspects, the natural and the social environment. These two aspects cover a variety of factors, such as climate and social conditions, type of terrain, water supply, agriculture, water logging, sanitation and sewerage, hygienic conditions of communities, and racial features of the population. Therefore, these factors were used to understand the water resources management practices in early civilizations (e.g., Minoan and Indus Valley) and similarities, despite the large geographic distance between places of origin. Also discussed are the basic principles and characteristics of water management sustainability in both civilizations and a comparison of basic water supply and sanitation practices through the long history of the two civilizations. Finally, sustainability issues and lessons learned are considered. Full article
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Article
Project and Implementation of an Educational Large-Scale Water Distillation Unit with a Closed-Circuit Condenser
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3239; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083239 - 16 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1053
Abstract
Water is one of the scarcest resources in the world, and it is becoming rarer fast, year after year. Chemical engineers are particularly suited to addressing the challenges of saving water and producing more fresh water. Proper education is then critical to prepare [...] Read more.
Water is one of the scarcest resources in the world, and it is becoming rarer fast, year after year. Chemical engineers are particularly suited to addressing the challenges of saving water and producing more fresh water. Proper education is then critical to prepare them for the upcoming decades. All student laboratories need distilled water, which is typically produced using commercial distillation units, which consume up to 70 L of fresh water per liter of distillated water. This work reports the design, construction, optimization, and operation of a water distillation unit that produces 10 liters per hour at 4 µS∙cm−1 and wastes no fresh water. Developed by a committed team made up of students, lab technicians, and instructors, this unit saves ca. 550 m3 of fresh water annually while spending less electrical power. Full article
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Review

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Review
Water Storage in Dry Riverbeds of Arid and Semi-Arid Regions: Overview, Challenges, and Prospects of Sand Dam Technology
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 5905; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13115905 - 24 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1016
Abstract
Augmenting water availability using water-harvesting structures is of importance in arid and semi-arid regions (ASARs). This paper provides an overview and examines challenges and prospects of the sand dam application in dry riverbeds of ASARs. The technology filters and protects water from contamination [...] Read more.
Augmenting water availability using water-harvesting structures is of importance in arid and semi-arid regions (ASARs). This paper provides an overview and examines challenges and prospects of the sand dam application in dry riverbeds of ASARs. The technology filters and protects water from contamination and evaporation with low to no maintenance cost. Sand dams improve the socio-economy of the community and help to cope with drought and climate change. However, success depends on the site selection, design, and construction. The ideal site for a sand dam is at a transition between mountains and plains, with no bend, intermediate slope, and impermeable riverbed in a catchment with a slope greater than 2°. The spillway dimensioning considers the flow velocity, sediment properties, and storage target, and the construction is in multi-stages. Recently, the failure of several sand dams because of incorrect siting, evaporation loss, and one-stage construction were reported. Revision of practitioners’ manuals by considering catchment scale hydrological and hydrogeological characteristics, spillway height, and sediment transport are recommended. Research shows that protected wells have better water quality than open wells and scoop holes. Therefore, the community should avoid open defecation, pit latrines, tethering of animals, and applying pesticides near the sand dam. Full article
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Review
Water Conflicts: From Ancient to Modern Times and in the Future
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4237; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084237 - 11 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1476
Abstract
Since prehistoric times, water conflicts have occurred as a result of a wide range of tensions and/or violence, which have rarely taken the form of traditional warfare waged over water resources alone. Instead, water has historically been a (re)source of tension and a [...] Read more.
Since prehistoric times, water conflicts have occurred as a result of a wide range of tensions and/or violence, which have rarely taken the form of traditional warfare waged over water resources alone. Instead, water has historically been a (re)source of tension and a factor in conflicts that start for other reasons. In some cases, water was used directly as a weapon through its ability to cause damage through deprivation or erosion or water resources of enemy populations and their armies. However, water conflicts, both past and present, arise for several reasons; including territorial disputes, fight for resources, and strategic advantage. The main reasons of water conflicts are usually delimitation of boundaries, waterlogging (e.g., dams and lakes), diversion of rivers flow, running water, food, and political distresses. In recent decades, the number of human casualties caused by water conflicts is more than that of natural disasters, indicating the importance of emerging trends on water wars in the world. This paper presents arguments, fights, discourses, and conflicts around water from ancient times to the present. This diachronic survey attempts to provide water governance alternatives for the current and future. Full article
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Review
Egyptian and Greek Water Cultures and Hydro-Technologies in Ancient Times
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9760; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229760 - 23 Nov 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1903
Abstract
Egyptian and Greek ancient civilizations prevailed in eastern Mediterranean since prehistoric times. The Egyptian civilization is thought to have been begun in about 3150 BC until 31 BC. For the ancient Greek civilization, it started in the period of Minoan (ca. 3200 BC) [...] Read more.
Egyptian and Greek ancient civilizations prevailed in eastern Mediterranean since prehistoric times. The Egyptian civilization is thought to have been begun in about 3150 BC until 31 BC. For the ancient Greek civilization, it started in the period of Minoan (ca. 3200 BC) up to the ending of the Hellenistic era. There are various parallels and dissimilarities between both civilizations. They co-existed during a certain timeframe (from ca. 2000 to ca. 146 BC); however, they were in two different geographic areas. Both civilizations were massive traders, subsequently, they deeply influenced the regional civilizations which have developed in that region. Various scientific and technological principles were established by both civilizations through their long histories. Water management was one of these major technologies. Accordingly, they have significantly influenced the ancient world’s hydro-technologies. In this review, a comparison of water culture issues and hydro-structures was adopted through the extended history of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. The specific objectives of the work are to study the parallel historical cultures and hydro-technologies, assessing similarities and differences, and to analyze their progress since primitive times. The tools adopted for the research include visits to historical aeras and museums, comments, consultations, correlation and exhibitions available in the cyberspace. Review results herein showed that dams and canals were constructed in ancient Egypt to manage the flood of the Nile river and develop irrigation systems from ca. 6000 BC. In the second millennium BC, Minoans managed the flow of the streams via two dams, to protect arable land from destruction after intense rainfall and to irrigate their farms. Additional results showed that ancient Egyptians and Greeks invented many devices for lifting water for plant irrigation such as the shadouf, sakia and tympanum and pumps, of which some were already in use in Mesopotamia for irrigating small plots. The ancient Egyptians were the first who discovered the principle and the basis of coagulation (after ca. 1500 BC). They used the alum for accelerating the settlement of the particles. Additionally, the ancient Greeks developed several advanced water treatment technologies since the prehistoric times. To sum up, the study captured many similarities between two civilizations in water technologies. In addition, it confirmed the sustainability and durability of several of those hydro-technologies since they are still in use up to now in many places. Full article
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Review
Sustainability of Underground Hydro-Technologies: From Ancient to Modern Times and toward the Future
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 8983; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12218983 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1291
Abstract
An underground aqueduct is usually a canal built in the subsurface to transfer water from a starting point to a distant location. Systems of underground aqueducts have been applied by ancient civilizations to manage different aspects of water supply. This research reviews underground [...] Read more.
An underground aqueduct is usually a canal built in the subsurface to transfer water from a starting point to a distant location. Systems of underground aqueducts have been applied by ancient civilizations to manage different aspects of water supply. This research reviews underground aqueducts from the prehistoric period to modern times to assess the potential of achieving sustainable development of water distribution in the sectors of agriculture and urban management, and provides valuable insights into various types of ancient underground systems and tunnels. The review illustrates how these old structures are a testament of ancient people’s ability to manage water resources using sustainable tools such as aqueducts, where the functionality works by using, besides gravity, only “natural” engineering tools like inverted siphons. The study sheds new light on human’s capability to collect and use water in the past. In addition, it critically analyzes numerous examples of ancient/historic/pre-industrial underground water supply systems that appear to have remained sustainable up until recent times. The sustainability of several underground structures is examined, correlated to their sound construction and regular maintenance. Moreover, several lessons can be learned from the analysis of ancient hydraulic works, particularly now, as many periodically hydrologic crises have occurred recently, overwhelmingly impacted by climate change and/or over-exploitation and degradation of available water resources. Full article
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