Every day in South Florida about 7.7 million people, companies, and farms use more than 3 billion gallons of water. With expected population growth and potential climate change impacts, different water use optimization strategies are needed. In order to investigate various strategies, a 5-year $5M WSC project focused on South Florida (the SFWSC) was initiated in 2013. Project researchers seek to develop hydrological and economic criteria for evaluating current and future water use and provide new insights into the value of water resources in the region. With this knowledge, the trade-offs decision-makers face under various climate change, economic, population, and SLR scenarios can be evaluated.
A hydro-economic optimization model utilizing a network design, will be developed. The model will be used to examine the hydrologic, economic, and ecological trade-offs inherent to competing management objectives. The goal of the National Science Foundation and United States Department of Agriculture Water, Sustainability, and Climate (WSC) Program is to “… understand and predict the interactions between the water system and climate change, land use, the built environment, and ecosystem function and services.”
The project’s objectives are to: 1) Develop a hydro-economic model for South Florida that optimizes water allocations based on the economic value of water; 2) Develop new information on the economic value of ecosystem services to be incorporated into model formulations; 3) Test management schemes designed to increase the resilience of water resources to climate variability, climate change, and SLR; 4) Engage stakeholders to improve understanding of the cognitive and perceptual biases in risk management and decision-making; and 5) Develop recommendations for adaptive water management that optimize economic and ecological productivity and foster sustained public support.