Global Freshwater Resources: Soft-Path Solutions for the 21st Century

Published: December 2003

Authors: Peter Gleick

Pages: 5



Twentieth century water policies relied on the construction of massive infrastructure in the form of dams, aqueducts, pipelines, and complex centralized treatment plants to meet human demands. These facilities brought tremendous benefits to billions of people, but they also had serious and often unanticipated social, economic, and ecological costs. A transition is under way to a “soft path” that complements centralized physical infrastructure with lower cost community-scale systems, decentralized and open decision-making, water markets and equitable pricing, the application of efficient technology, and environmental protections.

This article was featured in the December 2003 issue of Science Magazine.