Newsletter: RAND Water and Climate Resilience Center | Web version

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September 2016

Water and Climate Resilience Center

New Publications

An aerial photo of a flood-affected area of northern Colorado along the Big Thompson River which has been declared a federal disaster area in September 2013, photo by Capt. Darin Overstreet/U.S. Air National Guard/Handout via Reuters

Current and Future Exposure of Infrastructure in the United States to Natural Hazards

July 12, 2016

Henry H. Willis, Anu Narayanan, Jordan R. Fischbach, Edmundo Molina-Perez, Chuck Stelzner, Kathleen Loa, Lauren Kendrick

This report describes insights about exposures from natural hazards now and in the future, as well as gaps in data that, if filled, could improve the nation's ability to assess infrastructure risk and improve infrastructure resilience. Read more »

What Role Does the Private Sector Have in Supporting Disaster Recovery, and What Challenges Does It Face in Doing So?

May 18, 2016

Anita Chandra, Shaela Moen, Clarissa Sellers

This perspective examines key issues confronting the private sector in disaster recovery financing, the roles that private-sector entities have played, and where there has been successful integration or leadership of these organizations. It briefly explores challenges that the private sector faces. Given continued data gaps in this field, the authors offer opportunities for research and policy analysis. Read more »

Developing the Pardee RAND Food-Energy-Water Security Index Toward a Global Standardized, Quantitative, and Transparent Resource Assessment

April 28, 2016

Henry H. Willis, David Groves, Jeanne S. Ringel, Zhimin Mao, Shira Efron, Michele Abbott

To provide information to agencies and efforts focused on food, water, and energy resources, the RAND Corporation developed the Pardee RAND Food-Energy-Water Security Index. The index provides a standardized, quantitative, and transparent estimation of the nexus between food, energy, and water that can be used by policymakers, the development community, scientists, and the public. This report serves as the technical documentation for the index. Read more »

Using High-Performance Computing to Support Water Resource Planning

August 25, 2016

David Groves, Robert Lempert, Deborah May, James Leek, James Syme

In November 2014, experts from the RAND Corporation and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory conducted a one-day workshop to explore the impact of using high-performance computing to support stakeholder real-time multiscenario deliberations over natural resource management planning. The workshop, employing Robust Decision Making (RDM) methods in support of a process of deliberation with analysis, revisited work RAND conducted for the Colorado River Basin in 2012 and was attended by decisionmakers involved in the original study and others interested in advancing the state of the art in quantitative decision support. In the course of the workshop, participants developed five new project portfolios that were then evaluated over about 12,000 alternative futures using high-performance computers — a process that would have taken weeks to complete using traditional computer clusters. Read more »

Research Highlights

Defining a Delta Levee Investment Strategy

RAND, working with an Arcadis-led consulting team, has been assisting California’s Delta Stewardship Council to develop a Delta Levee Investment Strategy for the State. This project first evaluated the risks that island flooding from hydrologic and seismic events within the California Bay-Delta poses to lives, property, water supply, terrestrial habitat, and additional Delta assets. Next, this risk information was used to develop a decision support tool that interactively shows users how risks compare across the Delta and can be aggregated to prioritize islands for levee investments. The RAND team, led by David Groves and Nidhi Kalra, designed the risk-based framework and the decision support tool now being used with the Council and stakeholders across Delta to define a Delta levee investment strategy.

A Strategy for Implementing Lima's Long-Term Water Resources Master Plan

RAND is working with the World Bank to help SEDAPAL—the water utility that serves Lima, Peru—to develop a more robust drought management plan. Building on prior work by RAND researchers David Groves and Nidhi Kalra, this new effort brings state of the art decisionmaking under undertainty methods to drought management. The analysis underway will not only better characterize Lima's vulnerabilities to different potential droughts now and in the coming decades, but it will also provide water managers with the data and tools needed to compare different drought management programs and investments.

Supporting Louisiana's 2017 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast

As part of RAND's current work to support the development of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's 2017 Coastal Master Plan, researchers have implemented a variety of updates and model improvements to the Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment (CLARA) model and the Planning Tool, which were developed for the 2012 Master Plan. The CLARA model estimates flood risk under a wide range of future environmental, operational, and growth uncertainties, and with various proposed coastal protection and restoration projects set in place, such as levee and barrier alignments.

Researchers have developed new and improved approaches to estimate parametric uncertainty surrounding flood depth and damage estimates, incorporate scenarios of levee and floodwall fragility to assess enclosed protected systems, as well as improve the inventory of assets at risk. The Planning Tool assimilates information about the coastal threats and challenges (or future without action conditions) and the projected effects and costs of proposed projects. Researchers are currently using the updated Tool to compare various projects, formulate alternatives, and make recommendations to CPRA on measures that best achieve the multiple goals of the Master Plan given funding limitations.

Researcher Spotlight

Debra Knopman

Debra Knopman
Principal Researcher

Debra Knopman is a principal researcher at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She served as vice president and director of RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment from 2004 to 2014. Knopman's expertise is in hydrology, environmental and natural resources policy, systems analysis and operations research, and public administration.

Her project work spans a range of topics including long-term water management, policy options for disposition of nuclear waste, governance and funding for U.S. Gulf Coast recovery, and the design of a National Research Fund for Qatar. She has been leading RAND projects on economic development and the environment in China since 2009. She served for six years (1997–2003) as a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board and chaired the board's Site Characterization Panel. She was the director of the Progressive Policy Institute's Center for Innovation and the Environment from 1995 to 2000. From 1993 to 1995, Knopman was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior. She had previously been a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and later chief of the Branch of Systems Analysis in the USGS's Water Resources Division. From 1979 to 1983, she served first as legislative assistant for energy and environmental issues to Senator Daniel P. Moynihan and then as professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Knopman earned her Ph.D. in geography and environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

News and Events

Aerial view of the Coronado Bridge, which connects San Diego and Coronado, at dusk, photo by Art Wager/Getty Images

Infrastructure Design Must Change with Climate

Failure to plan for climate change in infrastructure design poses a real threat to public safety and the ability to meet environmental quality goals. Engineers need to work with scientists and risk analysts to understand climate projections and how to incorporate the information into their designs. Read the commentary »

Fischbach and Groves Present Work to Support Louisiana Coastal Planning at 2016 State of the Coast Conference

Jordan Fischbach and David Groves presented at the 2016 State of the Coast Conference in New Orleans, LA to share RAND's recent work to support the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's 2017 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. Read more »

RAND and SCRiM Host Workshop on Resilience and Coastal Flood Risk Planning In New Orleans

Robert Lempert and Jordan Fischbach, along with other experts from RAND and Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM), led a workshop in New Orleans, LA on May 4, 2016 on the latest climate science findings relevant to resilience and coastal flood risk planning for the City of New Orleans. Read more »

The Colorado River Basin Study Featured in The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

Communities and businesses are taking action to reduce their vulnerability to climate-related impacts and to build resilience to extreme events. The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, a resource developed by a partnership of federal agencies and organizations led by NOAA, featured RAND's contributions to The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study to illustrate the successful application of the process and tools featured in its Toolkit. Read more »

RAND Hosts Workshop on Water Markets and Trading for California Water Planners

The RAND Water and Climate Resilience Center, USC's California Central, and the California Water Foundation held an all day workshop on April 5, 2016 at the RAND Corporation's headquarters in Santa Monica, California to convene leaders in California water policy to participate in a highly informed discussion on water markets and trading. The workshop explored the key barriers to increasing water trading in California, the required changes to water regulations and governance, as well as the necessary steps to improve water trading across the state.

Workshop participants discussed key issues, such as how might a water market and facilitated trading improve water management across California, including supporting conservation practices in agriculture; what regulatory processes will be needed or should be streamlined in order to support more robust water market activity; and what other steps need to be taken in order to facilitate greater market activity with sufficient accountability for resource impacts.

Lempert Presents Work on Climate-Related Decision Making at International Climate Change Adaptation Conference

Robert Lempert attended Adaptation Futures 2016 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands to participate as a presenter in two sessions. In a session surrounding adaptive policy pathways planning, Lempert shared findings from RAND's work with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Colorado River Basin states to apply Robust Decision Making (RDM) methods to identify and evaluate future scenarios in the region, as well as develop and compare adaptive strategies to address future vulnerabilities. In another session surrounding use and usability of climate information in adaptive planning, Lempert discussed RAND's analysis of biodiversity conservation strategies in California, which was conducted as part of a project with the National Science Foundation to inform climate-related decisions with earth systems models.

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