The utility of predictive hydrologic modeling for water resources planning and negotiation

Breanna Clabourne, Ty Ferré, and Chloe Fandel

Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
The University of Arizona

Hydrologic models enable scientists to predict aquifer responses to proposed anthropogenic activities.  Models can inform decision-making, but it is not always clear how the interests of multiple stakeholders can be met while satisfying regulatory requirements. In this study, a town and an agricultural developer represent two hypothetical stakeholders with competing interests and a shared water resource. The agricultural developer proposed further use of water for irrigation; they want to minimize their pumping and water delivery costs. The town wishes to minimize drawdown in their municipal well due to the proposed pumping. This study shows how competing interests can be balanced based on predictive modeling. In the model, a pre-existing pumping well represents past, current, and future pumping from the town.  For the proposed irrigation well, the pumping rate is fixed, but its location is a decision variable. The model was run for 30 well locations, and the combined costs of pumping and water delivery for the agricultural developer varied between $121,000 and $772,000. The projected water table depth in the town well varied between 10.2 to 11.4 m. Results are shown in a trade-off plot that could be used to negotiate a well location that is acceptable to both parties.

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