Introduction: Connecting Water and Heritage for the Future

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Water has served and sustained societies throughout the history of humankind. People have actively shaped its course, form, and function for human settlement and the development of civilizations. Around water, they have created socioeconomic structures, policies, and cultures; a rich world of narratives, laws, and practices; and an extensive tangible network of infrastructure, buildings, and urban form. Today, the complex and diverse systems of the past are necessarily the framework for preservation and reuse as well as for new systems. Through twenty-one chapters in five thematic sections, this book links the practices of the past to a present in which heritage and water are largely two separate disciplinary and professional fields. It describes an alternative emerging present in which policymaking and design work together to recognize and build on traditional knowledge and skills while imagining how such efforts will help us develop sustainable futures for cities, landscapes, and bodies of water.