To build a sustainable water circulation system, we should promote effective use of water resources, restraint of environmental burden, and conservation of energy and resources more than ever. After integrating three concepts related to water?flood control, irrigation, and environment?which had been developed separately for historical and other reasons, we need to understand the water circulation system comprehensively, and optimize, manage, and operate it to solve the issues. Under the present circumstances, however, we cannot easily achieve this, due to restrictions on technology, cost, human resources, and systems.
One of the crucial technical barriers is the lack of an integrated modeling system, which represents the entire complex and large-scale regional water circulation system intertwined spatially and temporally and is used for various simulations.
Models related to the water circulation system consist of artifact models such as dams, water treatment facilities, and conduits; natural environment models such as rivers, lakes, and groundwater; water utilization models such as water for various purposes; social and economic models, and so on. These models have been studied and developed independently by specialists in respective fields. Because complex problems related to water circulation cannot be easily solved by a single model, collaboration among multiple different models is required. However, the research to serve as the foundation of the collaboration and integration has almost never been conducted. Without the integrated modeling system that enables collaboration among various models, it is difficult to precisely visualize the entire image of the regional water circulation system we are aiming to build. Without quantitative and qualitative evaluation data, a proper judgment cannot be made when presenting the vision of a new smart city in developing countries or when optimizing water supply and sewerage facilities in a certain river basin in Japan by integrating the existing water infrastructure.
Without being researched and developed based on the actual targets, the integrated modeling system cannot go beyond the scope of academic interest to be implemented in society. It cannot be deepened without active contact with actual technology. Therefore, we propose selecting some regions at home and abroad and target systems to be implemented, and organizing a research team in each region. We will promote research and development aiming to solve specific issues by working in a team optimized for the different situations of the respective regions.
More advanced technical barriers include the lack of the viewpoint to see the regional water circulation system as a part of the comprehensive system including social and economic environment, and the immaturity of the systems science and technology to support system building. Also, more advanced “barriers to system building” do not apply only to a water circulation system. We face similar issues in most attempts to implement technology extensively in society, such as social infrastructure for energy or other resources. Unfortunately, a scientific method to overcome these issues is yet to be established, and engineers’ skill has not been developed sufficiently to solve them. Moreover, in the actual development stage, even for an artificial system that can be handled as a relatively closed one, most of the designing and building process relies on engineering methodologies such as enterprises’ manuals or engineers’ expertise, and has not yet been systematized scientifically. If the scale, complexity, and time range of the system expand to the level of the regional water circulation system we are attempting to handle here, it will be impossible to cope with it only by the conventional engineering approach.
To work on building the regional water circulation system, we should not see it at the same level as designing and development of an artificial water treatment plant. Instead, we should see it as system building at a higher level, including nature and social and economic environment. With this perspective, we think that we can exceed the limit of the research and development conducted from the viewpoint specific to water issues, thus achieving new results for social implementation of the system.
The strategic research for building systems, which has been proposed by the CRDS up to now, is a procedure on what to consider and how to proceed with building in the planning, executing, and implementing stages in the research and development project of the target system. With the knowledge accumulated by conducting the project according to the procedure, we also aim to deepen the system building methodology, which is still based on an engineering approach and not systematized scientifically, and develop a part of it as a new academic field.
Furthermore, this document also proposes a new research system structure and promotion measure, which is to divide the research team into a group leading the strategic research for building systems, a platform group for implementing the integrated modeling system as software and a water specialist group in charge of the development of water-related models. The three groups will organize heterogeneous research teams, and active interaction between the groups will lead to the social implementation of water systems.