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WaterSim: a simulation model for urban water planning in Phoenix, Arizona, USA

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  • Patricia Gober
  • Elizabeth A Wentz
  • Timothy Lant
  • Michael K Tschudi
  • Craig W Kirkwood

Abstract

WaterSim, a simulation model, was built and implemented to investigate how alternative climate conditions, rates of population growth, and policy choices interact to affect future water supply and demand conditions in Phoenix, AZ. WaterSim is a hierarchical model that represents supply from surface and groundwater sources and demand from residential, commercial, and agricultural user sectors, incorporating the rules that govern reservoirs, aquifer use, and land-use change. In this paper we: (1) report on the imperative for exploratory modeling in water-resource management, given the deep uncertainties of climate change, (2) describe the geographic context for the Phoenix case study, (3) outline the objectives and structure of WaterSim, (4) report on testing the model with sensitivity analyses and history matching, (5) demonstrate the application of the model through a series of simulation experiments, and (6) discuss the model’s use for scenario planning and climate adaptation. Simulation results show there are significant challenges to Phoenix’s water sustainability from climate change and rapid growth. Policies to address these challenges require difficult tradeoffs among lifestyles, groundwater sustainability, the pace of growth, and what is considered to be an appropriate level of risk of climate-induced shortage.

Suggested Citation

  • Patricia Gober & Elizabeth A Wentz & Timothy Lant & Michael K Tschudi & Craig W Kirkwood, 2011. "WaterSim: a simulation model for urban water planning in Phoenix, Arizona, USA," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 38(2), pages 197-215, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:38:y:2011:i:2:p:197-215
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    Cited by:

    1. Arnim Wiek & Kelli Larson, 2012. "Water, People, and Sustainability—A Systems Framework for Analyzing and Assessing Water Governance Regimes," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 26(11), pages 3153-3171, September.
    2. Alan Murray & Patricia Gober & Luc Anselin & Sergio Rey & David Sampson & Paul Padegimas & Yin Liu, 2012. "Spatial Optimization Models for Water Supply Allocation," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 26(8), pages 2243-2257, June.

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