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

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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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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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Sustainability principles and the future of Phoenix, Arizona: framing the Salt River's urban waterway redevelopment

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As urban populations rapidly increase in an era of climate change and multiple social and environmental uncertainties, scientists and governments are cultivating knowledge and solutions for the sustainable growth and maintenance of cities. Although substantial literature focuses on urban water

As urban populations rapidly increase in an era of climate change and multiple social and environmental uncertainties, scientists and governments are cultivating knowledge and solutions for the sustainable growth and maintenance of cities. Although substantial literature focuses on urban water resource management related to both human and ecological sustainability, few studies assess the unique role of waterway restorations to bridge anthropocentric and ecological concerns in urban environments. To address this gap, my study addressed if well-established sustainability principles are evoked during the nascent discourse of recently proposed urban waterway developments along over fifty miles of Arizona’s Salt River. In this study, a deductive content analysis is used to illuminate the emergence of sustainability principles, the framing of the redevelopment, and to illuminate macro-environmental discourses. Three sustainability principles dominated the discourse: civility and democratic governance; livelihood sufficiency and opportunity; and social-ecological system integrity. These three principles connected to three macro-discourses: economic rationalism; democratic pragmatism; and ecological modernity. These results hold implications for policy and theory and inform urban development processes for improvements to sustainability. As continued densification, in-fill and rapid urbanization continues in the 21st century, more cities are looking to reconstruct urban riverways. Therefore, the emergent sustainability discourse regarding potential revitalizations along Arizona’s Salt River is a manifestation of how waterways are perceived, valued, and essential to urban environments for anthropocentric and ecological needs.

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2019

Challenges and Opportunities for Complexity Analysis in Food-Energy-Water Interdependent Systems

Description

The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus is the interaction and the interdependence of the food, energy and water systems. These interdependencies exist in all parts of the world yet little knowledge exists of the complexity within these interdependent systems. Using Arizona as

The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus is the interaction and the interdependence of the food, energy and water systems. These interdependencies exist in all parts of the world yet little knowledge exists of the complexity within these interdependent systems. Using Arizona as a case study, systems-oriented frameworks are examined for their value in revealing the complexity of FEW nexus. Industrial Symbiosis, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Urban Metabolism are examined. The Industrial Symbiosis presents the system as purely a technical one and looks only at technology and hard infrastructure.

The LCA framework takes a reductionist approach and tries to make the system manageable by setting boundary conditions. This allows the frameworks to analyze the soft infrastructure as well as the hard infrastructure. The LCA framework also helps determine potential impact. Urban Metabolism analyzes the interactions between the different infrastructures within the confines of the region and retains the complexity of the system. It is concluded that a combination of the frameworks may provide the most insight in revealing the complexity of nexus and guiding decision makers towards improving sustainability and resilience.

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An Adaptive Management Plan to Decrease Impacts of Water Crisis on Social Welfare in Detroit

Description

In the economic crisis Detroit has been enduring for many decades, a unique crisis has emerged with the provision of water that is normally not seen in the developed world. The oversized, deteriorating, and underfunded water provision system has been

In the economic crisis Detroit has been enduring for many decades, a unique crisis has emerged with the provision of water that is normally not seen in the developed world. The oversized, deteriorating, and underfunded water provision system has been steadily accruing debt for the water utility since population began to decrease in the 1950s. As a result, the utility has instated rate increases and aggressive water shut off policies for non-paying residents. Residents have consequentially claimed that their human right to water has been breeched.

In this report, I analyze possible solutions to the water crisis from both the water utility and resident perspectives. Since all utility management solutions have very serious limitations on either side of the argument, I have chosen a set of technologies to consider as a part of an impact mitigation plan that can provide alternative sources of water for the people who no longer can rely on municipal water. I additionally propose an adaptive management plan to evaluate the effects of using these technologies in the long-term. The monitoring of the effects of technological mitigations might also help determine if sustainability (efficiency and equity) could be an attainable long-term solution to Detroit’s water crisis.

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