There's a reason why scientists look for water on other planets - because in our understanding it is essential for carbon-based life.

Much closer to home, the role engineering plays in water management is observable everyday. From the network of pipelines, storage tanks and treatment plants for urban water utilities, to the need to irrigate crops on massive Great Plains farmlands. Water needs to be delivered to the farthest terrestrial reaches of humanity. Water is also poised to be a significant contributor in renewable energy, as hydropower continues to grow.

Yet increasingly, humanity is at odds with water. Sea levels are rising and powerful storms more common, meaning waterside communities are reconsidering their relationships - and defenses - against this threat. Look no further than recent flooding in New York City, Miami and New Orleans. And in other cases, such as California, extreme drought is changing how people live and work.

These such challenges, and the search for answers, are the focus of Engineering360's next theme.