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Gerald Lacey Lecture 2024: from integrated to disintegrated water resources management

Event organised by ICE

13 May 2024

This event has now ended


The 2024 Gerald Lacey lecture will be presented by irrigation and water resources specialist, Chris Perry who will discuss irrigation and water resources management practice from around the world, and what the future holds for how this can best be protected and managed. Chris’ background is entirely in the developing world, especially India and the Middle East, and predominantly in the irrigation sector, which is the main water consuming sector.

The concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been a constant thread in discussions about how to better manage water and how to address scarcity and competition since the 1990s. Evidence of success is sparse, and most would agree that problems are worse now than they were 30 years ago.

It is argued that the primary cause for this failure is that too little attention was given to the original basis of “integration”, namely hydrology – the science that governs the interdependent workings of water systems. While many stakeholders have sought to add their perspective to the IWRM bandwagon, the reality that water allocations must be reduced to reach “sustainable” outcomes has been ignored by those who bear that responsibility.

In parallel, silver bullets such as “efficiency” and “pricing” have absorbed money and intellectual effort to little effect; assuming that green water is different from blue water and that groundwater is different from surface water have further diverted attention from the main story.

Christopher’s lecture will discuss the integration and disintegration of water resources management around the world. He will offer his observations on how we got to this position, and what advice can be given to better equip practitioners, farmers and communities to best manage and utilise the water and infrastructure available to them.


18:30 - 18:35

Welcome by Ian Tod, chair, Irrigation and Water Forum

18:35 - 19:30

Lecture by Chris Perry, irrigation and water resources specialist

19:30 - 19:55

Q&A session

19:55 - 20:00

Closing remarks by Ian Tod


Event close


Chris Perry

Chris Perry

irrigation and water resource specialist

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Chris Perry

Chris Perry originally trained as a mechanical engineer and worked briefly in the aerospace industry before returning to university to study economics. He then joined the World Bank where he worked for about 25 years, almost exclusively on irrigation and water resources projects in South Asia and the Middle East.

He was seconded to the International Water Management Institute in Colombo for five years during the period when the concept of “crop per drop” was developed, as well as the potential of remote sensing to monitor water consumption. After retiring, he was Editor in Chief of Agricultural water Management for five years, while continuing to write and consult on water-related issues.

He has written or contributed to more than seventy publications on water management.