Water Resources Planning in an Uncertain Future

Fresh water is an essential and scarce resource. Ensuring its appropriate use and availability for sanitation, drinking, manufacturing, leisure, recreation, and agriculture requires significant planning. Over the past decade, RAND has been working directly with water planners from agencies and utilities across the United States and internationally to help them address climate change and other long-term uncertain factors in their planning.

RAND has deployed novel methods that help planners to develop and evaluate water management strategies that are more robust to an uncertain future. For example, WCRC researchers worked with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Colorado River Basin states to help evaluate conditions on the Colorado River across thousands 
of plausible futures and develop and compare strategies to address future vulnerabilities. The RAND team developed interactive visualization software to display results, compare options, and weigh final trade-offs with the Basin Study Team and its stakeholders.

  • Renewing America's Infrastructure: An Agenda for Federal Transportation and Water Policy

    Aug 21, 2018

    Improvements in Federal infrastructure investment are often focused on money: how to finance capital investment, operations, and maintenance. But also important is modernizing federal policy to support the mature and urban-centered economy of the United States—rather than the economy it had when most of the terms of federal engagement were set.

  • Building Resilience in an Urban Coastal Environment

    Jul 31, 2018

    What are the potential effects of climate change and sea level rise on flood risk, ecosystems, and water quality in New York City's Jamaica Bay? How can flood risk be reduced while also improving water quality, restoring habitat, and improving resilience to extreme weather events?

  • Adapting to a Changing Climate in Southeast Florida

    Jun 6, 2018

    Florida's Miami-Dade and Broward counties are vulnerable to flooding and intrusion of saltwater into drinking water. These risks are driven by sea level rise, changes in precipitation, and urban development. How can the region adapt?

  • Fixing U.S. Infrastructure's Ills Requires an Accurate Diagnosis

    Dec 5, 2017

    Funding levels and the overall physical conditions of transportation and water infrastructure in the U.S. are far from dire. But changes in funding, finance, and policy should be made with national and regional priorities in mind.

  • Not Everything Is Broken with U.S. Transportation and Water Infrastructure

    Dec 5, 2017

    Transportation and water infrastructure funding and finance in the United States are not nearly as dire as some believe. But a national consensus on infrastructure priorities, accompanied by targeted spending and selected policy changes, is needed.

  • A Climate Stress Test of Los Angeles' Water Quality Plans

    Sep 20, 2017

    Climate change can significantly affect water quality, but most plans for meeting water quality standards in the USA assume stationary climate. A robust decision making analysis shows how climate change could impact water quality in the Tujunga Wash, the largest subwatershed of the Los Angeles River.

  • Pittsburgh's Options to Address Lead in Its Water

    Jun 27, 2017

    Pittsburgh is struggling to manage and improve its aging water system, with a focus on elevated lead levels for many customers. What steps could help steer the city toward a permanent solution and protect future generations?

  • Robust Stormwater Management in the Pittsburgh Region

    Apr 24, 2017

    The city of Pittsburgh and its surrounding region face significant—and potentially growing—stormwater management challenges. Analysis can help better understand the system's vulnerabilities and identify solutions.