Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities
Research project

Changing Water Cultures (CANALS)

CANALS explores how a community adapts to global warming when there is an increase in extreme weather events (such as heavy rainfall) due to climate change.

An abstract figure in green and light blue with the text CANALS  changing water cultures
The CANALS project is led by Dr. Simon Meisch in cooperation with the Universities of Tübingen and Bergen and the City of Reutlingen.

Main content

The project has two goals: 

1. To understand how water creates relationships between people in urban spaces and how these relationships are changing due to climate change

2. To develop a process for stakeholders to acquire the knowledge they need to adapt, i.e., to create new relationships.

For some years now, the signs of global climate change have become increasingly visible in Germany. Thus, weather phenomena that were previously considered very rare are occurring more frequently and more intensively. This also holds true for the city of Reutlingen, which has experienced several extreme weather and flood events in recent years, such as the hailstorms of 2013 and 2021 or the floods of 2013, 2018, 2019 and 2021. Many people perceive weather and climate phenomena as increasingly unpredictable and thus more worrying.

The Changing Water Cultures (CANALS) project addresses this phenomenon through "water glasses". In the future, climate change is likely to result in an increased amount of water in relatively short periods of time (heavy rainfall events) with the associated small-scale effect of too much water (flood events) or too little (droughts and dry spells) – all of which will have a considerable impact on public life in settlement areas of cities and municipalities.

The CANALS project is led by Dr. Simon Meisch in cooperation with the Universities of Tübingen and Bergen and the City of Reutlingen.

The contact person on the side of the city administration is Patricia Mittnacht, head of the Task-Force Climate and Environment.

Project phases

The project consists of two phases:

Phase 1: Collection of experiences, expertise, and activities (January-December 2022)

Phase 2: Creation of useful knowledge for action, especially also in and for civil society (Spring 2023).

In the first phase, in addition to the technical expertise in the city administration and the specialised authorities of the state, CANALS seeks to talk to Reutlingen citizens about their own experiences with climate change, how they are already dealing with it, e.g., through their own approaches to action, and what they expect for their personal environment, the city of Reutlingen and beyond in the future. Most of them will probably have already dealt with the consequences of climate change in professional or voluntary, but likely also private, contexts. The experiences, expertise and activities of Reutlingen residents will be made visible and collected in this first phase. This will be done mainly through interviews or walks, which can show the problems on the ground in an exemplary way.

The second phase of the project will focus on interdisciplinary workshops in which Reutlingen residents will work together to create useful approaches for adapting to climate change based on their personal experiences and different knowledge. Results from the first phase will be presented at the events. They will serve as a starting point for considerations on how the city of Reutlingen and the specialised authorities of the state, but also everyone potentially affected, can deal with the consequences of climate change on the ground in Reutlingen.

On 28 April 2023, there was a public presentation and discussion of the project results in the Spitalhof in Reutlingen.

CANALS has officially ended, but the work goes on...

Publications relevant to the project

Academic papers

Newspaper articles:

  • "Ein Weiter-So nicht mehr möglich", in: Reutlinger General-Anzeiger vom 28. Juni 2023.
  • "Klima - Ist Reutlingen für Extremwetter gerüstet? Aufklärung ist das A und O", in: Reutlinger General-Anzeiger vom 29. April 2023.