Matching Items (19)

Vulnerability Assessment of Southwest Infrastructure to Increased Heat Using a Life Cycle Approach

Description

As average temperatures and occurrences of extreme heat events increase in the Southwest, the water infrastructure that was designed to operate under historical temperature ranges may become increasingly vulnerable to component and operational failures. For each major component along the

As average temperatures and occurrences of extreme heat events increase in the Southwest, the water infrastructure that was designed to operate under historical temperature ranges may become increasingly vulnerable to component and operational failures. For each major component along the life cycle of water in an urban water infrastructural system, potential failure events and their semi-quantitative probabilities of occurrence were estimated from interview responses of water industry professionals. These failure events were used to populate event trees to determine the potential pathways to cascading failures in the system. The probabilities of the cascading failure scenarios under future conditions were then calculated and compared to the probabilities of scenarios under current conditions to assess the increased vulnerability of the system. We find that extreme heat events can increase the vulnerability of water systems significantly and that there are ways for water infrastructure managers to proactively mitigate these vulnerabilities before problems occur.

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Sustainable water management in Ciudad Juarez

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ABSTRACT Water resources in many parts of the world are subject to increasing stress because of (a) the growth in demand caused by population increase and economic development, (b) threats to supply caused by climate and land cover change, and

ABSTRACT Water resources in many parts of the world are subject to increasing stress because of (a) the growth in demand caused by population increase and economic development, (b) threats to supply caused by climate and land cover change, and (c) a heightened awareness of the importance of maintaining water supplies to other parts of the ecosystem. An additional factor is the quality of water management. The United States-Mexican border provides an example of poor water management combined with increasing demand for water resources that are both scarce and uncertain. This dissertation focuses on the problem of water management in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. The city has attracted foreign investment during the last few decades, largely due to relatively low environmental and labor costs, and to a range of tax incentives and concessions. This has led to economic and population growth, but also to higher demand for public services such as water which leads to congestion and scarcity. In particular, as water resources have become scarce, the cost of water supply has increased. The dissertation analyzes the conditions that allow for the efficient use of water resources at sustainable levels of economic activity--i.e., employment and investment. In particular, it analyzes the water management strategies that lead to an efficient and sustainable use of water when the source of water is either an aquifer, or there is conjunctive use of ground and imported water. The first part of the dissertation constructs a model of the interactive effects of water supply, wage rates, inward migration of labor and inward investment of capital. It shows how growing water scarcity affects population growth through the impact it has on real wage rates, and how this erodes the comparative advantage of Ciudad Juarez--low wages--to the point where foreign investment stops. This reveals the very close connection between water management and the level of economic activity in Ciudad Juarez. The second part of the dissertation examines the effect of sustainable and efficient water management strategies on population and economic activity levels under two different settings. In the first Ciudad Juarez relies exclusively on ground water to meet demand--this reflects the current situation of Ciudad Juarez. In the second Ciudad Juarez is able both to import water and to draw on aquifers to meet demand. This situation is motivated by the fact that Ciudad Juarez is considering importing water from elsewhere to maintain its economic growth and mitigate the overdraft of the Bolson del Hueco aquifer. Both models were calibrated on data for Ciudad Juarez, and then used to run experiments with respect to different environmental and economic conditions, and different water management options. It is shown that for a given set of technological, institutional and environmental conditions, the way water is managed in a desert environment determines the long run equilibrium levels of employment, investment and output. It is also shown that the efficiency of water management is consistent with the sustainability of water use and economic activity. Importing water could allow the economy to operate at higher levels of activity than where it relies solely on local aquifers. However, at some scale, water availability will limit the level of economic activity, and the disposable income of the residents of Ciudad Juarez.

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2011

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Quenching our thirst for future knowledge: participatory scenario construction and sustainable water governance in a desert city

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Transformational sustainability science demands that stakeholders and researchers consider the needs and values of future generations in pursuit of solutions to sustainability problems. This dissertation research focuses on the real-world problem of unsustainable water governance in the Phoenix region of

Transformational sustainability science demands that stakeholders and researchers consider the needs and values of future generations in pursuit of solutions to sustainability problems. This dissertation research focuses on the real-world problem of unsustainable water governance in the Phoenix region of Central Arizona. A sustainability transition is the local water system is necessary to overcome sustainability challenges and scenarios can be used to explore plausible and desirable futures to inform a transition, but this requires some methodological refinements. This dissertation refines scenario methodology to generate water governance scenarios for metropolitan Phoenix that: (i) feature enhanced stakeholder participation; (ii) incorporate normative values and preferences; (iii) focus on governance actors and their activities; and (iv) meet an expanded set of quality criteria. The first study in the dissertation analyzes and evaluates participatory climate change scenarios to provide recommendations for the construction and use of scenarios that advance climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. The second study proposes and tests a set of plausibility indications to substantiate or evaluate claims that scenarios and future projections could become reality, helping to establish the legitimacy of radically different or transformative scenarios among an extended peer community. The case study of water governance begins with the third study, which includes a current state analysis and sustainability appraisal of the Phoenix-area water system. This is followed by a fourth study which surveys Phoenix-area water decision-makers to better understand water-related preferences for use in scenario construction. The fifth and final study applies a multi-method approach to construct future scenarios of water governance in metropolitan Phoenix in 2030 using stakeholder preferences, among other normative frames, and testing systemic impacts with WaterSim 5.0, a dynamic simulation model of water in the region. The scenarios are boundary objects around which stakeholders can weigh tradeoffs, set priorities and reflect on impacts of water-related activities, broadening policy dialogues around water governance in central Arizona. Together the five studies advance transformational sustainability research by refining methods to engage stakeholders in crafting futures that define how individuals and institutions should operate in transformed and sustainable systems.

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2014

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Toward sustainable governance of water resources: the case of Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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Research shows that many water governance regimes are failing to guide social-ecological systems away from points, beyond which, damage to social and environmental well-being will be difficult to correct. This problem is apparent in regions that face water conflicts and

Research shows that many water governance regimes are failing to guide social-ecological systems away from points, beyond which, damage to social and environmental well-being will be difficult to correct. This problem is apparent in regions that face water conflicts and climate threats. There remains a need to clarify what is it about governance that people need to change in water conflict prone regions, how to collectively go about doing that, and how research can actively support this. To address these needs, here I present a collaborative research project from the dry tropics of Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. The project addressed the overarching questions: How can water be governed sustainably in water-contested and climate-threatened regions? And, how can people transition current water governance regimes toward more sustainable ones? In pursuit of these questions, a series of individual studies were performed with many partners and collaborators. These studies included: a participatory analysis and sustainability assessment of current water governance regimes; a case analysis and comparison of water conflicts; constructing alternative governance scenarios; and, developing governance transition strategies. Results highlight the need for water governance that addresses asymmetrical knowledge gaps especially concerning groundwater resources, reconciles disenfranchised groups, and supports local leaders. Yet, actions taken based on these initial results, despite some success influencing policy, found substantial challenges confronting them. In-depth conflict investigations, for example, found that deeply rooted issues such friction between opposing local-based and national institutions were key conflict drivers in the region. To begin addressing these issues, researchers and stakeholders then constructed a set of governing alternatives and devised governance transition strategies that could actively support people to achieve more sustainable alternatives and avoid less sustainable ones. These efforts yielded insight into the collective actions needed to implement more sustainable water governance regimes, including ways to overcoming barriers that drive harmful water conflicts. Actions based on these initial strategies yielded further opportunities, challenges, and lessons. Overall, the project addresses the research and policy gap between identifying what is sustainable water governance and understanding the strategies needed to implement it successfully in regions that experience water conflict and climate impacts.

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2014

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Embedded resource accounting with applications to water embedded in energy trade in the western U.S

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Water resource management is becoming increasingly burdened by uncertain and fluctuating conditions resulting from climate change and population growth which place increased demands on already strained resources. Innovative water management schemes are necessary to address the reality of available water

Water resource management is becoming increasingly burdened by uncertain and fluctuating conditions resulting from climate change and population growth which place increased demands on already strained resources. Innovative water management schemes are necessary to address the reality of available water supplies. One such approach is the substitution of trade in virtual water for the use of local water supplies. This study provides a review of existing work in the use of virtual water and water footprint methods. Virtual water trade has been shown to be a successful method for addressing water scarcity and decreasing overall water consumption by shifting high water consumptive processes to wetter regions. These results however assume that all water resource supplies are equivalent regardless of physical location and they do not tie directly to economic markets. In this study we introduce a new mathematical framework, Embedded Resource Accounting (ERA), which is a synthesis of several different analytical methods presently used to quantify and describe human interactions with the economy and the natural environment. We define the specifics of the ERA framework in a generic context for the analysis of embedded resource trade in a way that links directly with the economics of that trade. Acknowledging the cyclical nature of water and the abundance of actual water resources on Earth, this study addresses fresh water availability within a given region. That is to say, the quantities of fresh water supplies annually available at acceptable quality for anthropogenic uses. The results of this research provide useful tools for water resource managers and policy makers to inform decision making on, (1) reallocation of local available fresh water resources, and (2) strategic supplementation of those resources with outside fresh water resources via the import of virtual water.

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2013

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Characterizing generation mix and virtual water for resilience to drought on the western U.S. power grid

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There is growing concern over the future availability of water for electricity generation. Because of a rapidly growing population coupled with an arid climate, the Western United States faces a particularly acute water/energy challenge, as installation of new electricity capacity

There is growing concern over the future availability of water for electricity generation. Because of a rapidly growing population coupled with an arid climate, the Western United States faces a particularly acute water/energy challenge, as installation of new electricity capacity is expected to be required in the areas with the most limited water availability. Electricity trading is anticipated to be an important strategy for avoiding further local water stress, especially during drought and in the areas with the most rapidly growing populations. Transfers of electricity imply transfers of "virtual water" - water required for the production of a product. Yet, as a result of sizable demand growth, there may not be excess capacity in the system to support trade as an adaptive response to long lasting drought. As the grid inevitably expands capacity due to higher demand, or adapts to anticipated climate change, capacity additions should be selected and sited to increase system resilience to drought. This paper explores the tradeoff between virtual water and local water/energy infrastructure development for the purpose of enhancing the Western US power grid's resilience to drought. A simple linear model is developed that estimates the economically optimal configuration of the Western US power grid given water constraints. The model indicates that natural gas combined cycle power plants combined with increased interstate trade in power and virtual water provide the greatest opportunity for cost effective and water efficient grid expansion. Such expansion, as well as drought conditions, may shift and increase virtual water trade patterns, as states with ample water resources and a competitive advantage in developing power sources become net exporters, and states with limited water or higher costs become importers.

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Date Created
2013

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A comparative assessment of community water system vulnerability to water scarcity in Buckeye and Cave Creek, Arizona

Description

With the ongoing drought surpassing a decade in Arizona, scholars, water managers and decision-makers have heightened attention to the availability of water resources, especially in rapidly growing regions where demand may outgrow supplies or outpace the capacity of the community

With the ongoing drought surpassing a decade in Arizona, scholars, water managers and decision-makers have heightened attention to the availability of water resources, especially in rapidly growing regions where demand may outgrow supplies or outpace the capacity of the community water systems. Community water system managing entities and the biophysical and social characteristics of a place mediate communities' vulnerability to hazards such as drought and long-term climate change. The arid southwestern Phoenix metropolitan area is illustrative of the challenges that developed urban areas in arid climates face globally as population growth and climate change stress already fragile human-environmental systems. This thesis reveals the factors abating and exacerbating differential community water system vulnerability to water scarcity in communities simultaneously facing drought and rapid peri-urban growth. Employing a grounded, qualitative comparative case study approach, this thesis explores the interaction of social, biophysical and institutional factors as they effect the exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of community water systems in Cave Creek and Buckeye, Arizona. Buckeye, once a small agricultural town in the West Valley, is wholly dependent on groundwater and currently planning for massive development to accommodate 218,591 new residents by 2020. Amid desert hills and near Tonto National Forest in the North Valley, Cave Creek is an upscale residential community suffering frequent water outages due to aging infrastructure and lack of system redundancy. Analyzing interviews, media accounts and policy documents, a narrative was composed explaining how place based factors, nested within a regional institutional water management framework, impact short and long-term vulnerability. This research adds to the library of vulnerability assessments completed using Polsky et al.'s Vulnerability Scoping Diagram and serves a pragmatic need assisting in the development of decision making tools that better represent the drivers of placed based vulnerability in arid metropolitan regions.

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2011

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Investigation of sustainable and reliable design alternatives for water distribution systems

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Nowadays there is a pronounced interest in the need for sustainable and reliable infrastructure systems to address the challenges of the future infrastructure development. This dissertation presents the research associated with understanding various sustainable and reliable design alternatives for water

Nowadays there is a pronounced interest in the need for sustainable and reliable infrastructure systems to address the challenges of the future infrastructure development. This dissertation presents the research associated with understanding various sustainable and reliable design alternatives for water distribution systems. Although design of water distribution networks (WDN) is a thoroughly studied area, most researchers seem to focus on developing algorithms to solve the non-linear hard kind of optimization problems associated with WDN design. Cost has been the objective in most of the previous studies with few models considering reliability as a constraint, and even fewer models accounting for the environmental impact of WDN. The research presented in this dissertation combines all these important objectives into a multi-objective optimization framework. The model used in this research is an integration of a genetic algorithm optimization tool with a water network solver, EPANET. The objectives considered for the optimization are Life Cycle Costs (LCC) and Life Cycle Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions (LCE) whereby the system reliability is made a constraint. Three popularly used resilience metrics were investigated in this research for their efficiency in aiding the design of WDNs that are able to handle external natural and man-made shocks. The best performing resilience metric is incorporated into the optimization model as an additional objective. Various scenarios were developed for the design analysis in order to understand the trade-offs between different critical parameters considered in this research. An approach is proposed and illustrated to identify the most sustainable and resilient design alternatives from the solution set obtained by the model employed in this research. The model is demonstrated by using various benchmark networks that were studied previously. The size of the networks ranges from a simple 8-pipe system to a relatively large 2467-pipe one. The results from this research indicate that LCE can be reduced at a reasonable cost when a better design is chosen. Similarly, resilience could also be improved at an additional cost. The model used in this research is more suitable for water distribution networks. However, the methodology could be adapted to other infrastructure systems as well.

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Date Created
2012

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Whiskey is for drinking - water is for fighting over: population growth, infrastructure change, and conservation policy as drivers of residential water demand

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As urban populations grow, water managers are becoming increasingly concerned about water scarcity. Water managers once relied on developing new sources of water supply to manage scarcity but economically feasible sources of unclaimed water are now rare, leading to an

As urban populations grow, water managers are becoming increasingly concerned about water scarcity. Water managers once relied on developing new sources of water supply to manage scarcity but economically feasible sources of unclaimed water are now rare, leading to an increased interest in demand side management. Water managers in Las Vegas, Nevada have developed innovative demand side management strategies due to the cities rapid urbanization and limited water supply. Three questions are addressed. First, in the developed areas of the Las Vegas Valley Water District service areas, how did vegetation area change? To quantify changes in vegetation area, the Matched Filter Vegetation Index (MFVI) is developed from Mixture Tuned Match Filtering estimates of vegetation area calibrated against vegetation area estimates from high-resolution aerial photography. In the established city core, there was a small but significant decline in vegetation area. Second, how much of the observed decline in per capita consumption can be explained by Las Vegas land cover and physical infrastructure change that resulted from extensive new construction and new use of water conserving technology, and how much can be attributed to water conservation policy choices? A regression analysis is performed, followed by an analysis of three counter-factual scenarios to decompose reductions in household water into its constituent parts. The largest citywide drivers of change in water consumption were increased water efficiency associated with new construction and rapid population growth. In the established urban core, the most significant driver was declining vegetation area. Third, water savings generated by a conservation program that provides incentives for homeowners to convert grass into desert landscaping are estimated. In the city core, 82 gallons of water are saved in June for each square meter of landscape converted in the first year after conversion, but the savings attenuate to 33 gallons per meter converted as the landscape ages. Voluntary landscape conversion programs can generate substantial water savings. The most significant result is that the most effective way to ensure long term, sustainable reductions in water consumption in a growing city without changing water prices is to support the construction of water efficient infrastructure.

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2014