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Complexities of Water Biological Regionalism (PDF)

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Complexities of Water: Bagmati River, Nepal and Beyond is an 180 page full-color beautifully designed and illustrate publication that will examines how the holiest river in Nepal became spoiled by decades of pollution and policies that did not address issues of urban migration. Through aesthetically-interesting and related imagery, maps, and graphs, we hope to provide a new perspective on the interconnectedness of science, economics, environmentalism and art as it relates to the complexities of climate change and its effects on water. By understanding the interrelatedness of complicated issues in the specific local region, the audience can begin to appreciate the complexities and connectiveness of their own locality to the global community.

The Bagmati River’s present condition is a result of is the result of government mismanagement and oversight, lack of concern for underrepresented communities who live along its banks, and extreme flooding and droughts due to climate change. Recent reports have ranked Nepal as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change due to the high rate of urbanization, unchecked industrial development, severely low water supply, high pollution levels, increasingly frequent extreme floods and droughts, predictions of worsening conditions and lack of appropriate planning to mitigate or adapt to these conditions. Reports also list Nepal as an LDC (least developed country), which indicates its potential limitations to address these issues. This project and publication hopes to bring international attention to this issue and hopefully some support to help provide finances to assist in addressing these issues.

While examples of pollution and the effects of climate change can be found throughout Nepal, there is no better example of how bad the situation has become than what has happened to the Bagmati River. The river is the most sacred Hindu and Buddhist river in Nepal and its banks border the holiest Hindu temples and several UNESCO heritage sites. Yet, it is the most polluted river in Nepal. The Bagmati River is also a prime example of how adversely climate change can affect a community while, at the same time, highlighting the resiliency and commitment of the residents to continue the fight to mend their river. The importance of the river to the people of Nepal and residents of Kathmandu had resulted in inspiring city-wide community events that have tried to restore the sacred waters. While their efforts are admirable and have motivated government action, little has been done to mitigate climate change causes or to adapt communities to their present conditions or to future projections. This book connects the science of water quality and climate change to effects of urban migration, social norms, economics, industrial development, and government policies. It investigates how the river’s condition has affected religious rituals and culture.

While the issues investigated are specific to Nepal and the Kathmandu Valley, the general causes of the pollution, degradation of the water and its connection to climate change is reflective of many rivers and communities throughout the world.