Brown Bag Lunch: The Salton Sea and the Nairobi Dam

A Parable of Two Ponds

Time: Wed 2017-11-08 12.00 - 13.00

Lecturer: Joe Mulligan

Location: Room Ocean, Teknikringen 10B, 2 fl

The Salton Sea and the Nairobi Dam are two water bodies in very different environments. While the Salton Sea is set below sea level in southern California's arid Coachella Valley, the Dam is at 1,800m and just downstream of Nairobi's infamous Kibera slum.

Nairobi dam
Salton sea

While having very different geographies, histories and demographics, these two water bodies also have some intriguing similarities: they are both human-made for the purposes of water supply, they both became areas of recreation for the elites of the 1960's, and have both since become deteriorating environmental disasters with regional implications. For the Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) the challenges of the Dam and Sea are inextricably linked to the issues of poverty and the need for participatory and equitable development in the surrounding communities - a link that has not been made in the top-down, tech-focused remediation plans that are in process today.

The presentation uses these two "ponds" as an entry point to compare and contrast the wider context, communities and development challenges in each place. It also examines the built, advocacy and research artifacts produced by KDI and community partners from 10 years of practice in Kibera, and 5 years of work in Coachella. Recommendations are developed to inform the remediation plans underway in each location, hopefully with broader relevance for realizing participation in planning processes in other environmentally challenged watersheds.

Joe Mulligan is an environmental engineer, associate director of KDI, and an industrial PhD student at KTH Division of Strategic Sustainability Studies. ​

The presentation in pdfs:

KDI (pdf 1.3 MB)

A parable of two ponds (pdf 9.2 MB)

A tale of two cities (pdf 2.9 MB)

Solutions + Ecological planning + Local influence (pdf 7.9 MB)

Boundary expansion + Conclusions (pdf 3.7 MB)