Infrastructure, Hydrology, and Policy: Socio-Hydrological Modeling of Urban Water Consumption Dynamics
reliability of our water systems depends not only on natural hydrological systems but on
the human systems that both change and respond to changes in natural systems.
Fundamental to planning and managing a reliable water system is an understanding of
system response to past changes. Socio-hydrological modeling has the potential to
address this challenge by integrating feedback b... read moreetween human and hydrological systems to
assess how, for example, demographic and climatic changes propagate throughout the
system. However, broadening the scope of analysis exacerbates the existing challenge of
translating real world complexity into a tractable model and actionable science. This
dissertation builds upon recent work in socio-hydrology to address the challenge of
modeling coupled human-hydrological systems in the context of urban water consumption
dynamics. A model development process is presented to increase model transparency and
encourage questioning of disciplinary assumptions and integration of disciplinary
methodologies. This process is applied to develop a model of per capita water
consumption in Las Vegas. Three decision variables, rates, water efficiency codes and
utility response to water stress, are identified as drivers of per capita water
consumption change. This water consumption module is integrated into a water supply
model and compared to a traditional water supply model where consumption is an exogenous
variable. The comparison shows clear advantages of the endogenous water consumption
model. Its use enabled the exploration of the interactions between demand management
policies, supply and external variables, and altered the assessment of available supply
and demand side options. Furthermore, this endogenous model results show higher levels
of reliability and lower water stress across scenarios, due to the inclusion of
conservation response to water stress, implying that maintaining water utility and
consumer adaptive capacity is critical to realizing the performance gains seen in this
model. Future application of this model, and models that similarly integrate feedback
between human and natural systems, have the potential to select policies and
infrastructure investments that utilize existing feedback and test for unintended path
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of Civil Engineering.
Advisor: Shafiqul Islam.
Committee: Kent Portney, Avery Cohn, and Murugesu Sivapalan.
Keywords: Water resources management, and Political science.read less