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System Dynamics to Sustainable Water Resources Management in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer Under Water Supply Uncertainty


  • Paper No. JAWRA-11-0060-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.



Abstract:  Water supply uncertainty continues to threaten the reliability of regional water resources in the western United States. Climate variability and water dispute potentials induce water managers to develop proactive adaptive management strategies to mitigate future hydroclimate impacts. The Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer in the state of Idaho is also facing these challenges in the sense that population growth and economic development strongly depend on reliable water resources from underground storage. Drought and subsequent water conflict often drive scientific research and political agendas because water resources availability and aquifer management for a sustainable rural economy are of great interest. In this study, a system dynamics approach is applied to address dynamically complex problems with management of the aquifer and associated surface-water and groundwater interactions. Recharge and discharge dynamics within the aquifer system are coded in an environmental modeling framework to identify long-term behavior of aquifer responses to uncertain future hydrological variability. The research shows that the system dynamics approach is a promising modeling tool to develop sustainable water resources planning and management in a collaborative decision-making framework and also to provide useful insights and alternative opportunities for operational management, policy support, and participatory strategic planning to mitigate future hydroclimate impacts in human dimensions.