Using hydrologic models in the decision-making process

Breanna Clabourne, T.P.A. Ferré, and Chloé Fandel
Department of 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 rates are fixed at 3000 m3/day,4500 m3/day, and 6000 m3/day for 124 acres of wheat, pistachio, and cotton, respectively. For each of those pumping rates, the irrigation well location is varied over 10 locations within the model. A total of 30 designs for the crop and irrigation well location were analyzed. The utility of the agricultural developer for all of the ten cotton designs was zero dollars. For the wheat and pistachio designs, the utility of the agricultural developer varied from zero to 1,124,643 dollars. 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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