ENVR E-166: Water Resources Policy and Watershed Management

This course presents a comprehensive approach to water resources management by integrating environmental science (geology, soils, hydrology) and policy (planning and regulatory analysis). It is intended for both students with and without technical backgrounds. We use numerous case studies from the instructor's experience as a consultant to the US Environmental Protection Agency, state and local governments, industry, and nongovernmental organizations. To the extent possible, the course includes a field trip to visit actual project sites in the metro-Boston region. The course examines groundwater, lake, riverine, wetland, and coastal management issues at the local, state, tribal, regional, national, and international levels and relies heavily on practical case studies. We focus on an integrated water management approach that links drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater management—seeking opportunities to keep water local and for re-use, balancing hydrologic budgets, and minimizing costs in the face of climate change. A broad range of water resource management strategies is examined including structural/nonstructural, regulatory/nonregulatory, and prevention/restoration approaches. Smart growth and low impact development techniques are presented as effective growth management and climate adaptation techniques. Incentive-based management strategies are presented to modify behaviors and to optimize public participation. Green infrastructure is presented as an innovative and alternative approach to conventional grey technologies and includes shellfish aquaculture, bioretention, reforestation of riparian buffers, ecotoilets, and wetlands restoration.


Scott Horsley







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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2020-2021 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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