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, RAND CRC 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.

  • A screen capture from the Decision Support Tool for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Levee Investment Strategy

    Decision Support Tool for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Levee Investment Strategy

    Mar 7, 2019

    The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta plays a key role in the California water distribution system, but also faces complex and varied flood risks. The risk modeling and decision support tool informed the formulation of a Delta Levees Investment Strategy to mitigate risks.

  • Storm drain putflow, stormwater, water drainage, waste water or effluent

    Estimating Future Water Demand for San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District

    Dec 28, 2018

    Water resources management is becoming increasingly challenging in Southern California. The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District’s first step in a comprehensive evaluation to assess its demand projections. This evaluation may be of interest to water agencies in other locations addressing the impacts of drought, population growth, and climate uncertainty.

  • A Palestinian woman drags a cart loaded with water containers after filling them from a public tap in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, February 28, 2017

    How to Solve the Water Crisis in Gaza

    Sep 26, 2018

    Gaza has long had water and sanitation challenges, but today it's in a state of emergency. The crisis could be resolved through greater investment in water and power infrastructure as well as more water or electricity purchases. But political complications and other barriers remain.

  • Freeway ramps viewed from underneath, against a blue sky.

    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.

  • Ducklings and a swan gather on a sandbank in the Jamaica Bay neighborhood of New York City

    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?

  • Aerial view of Miami, Florida

    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?

  • Road bridge over Narragansett Bay, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA

    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.

  • Chickamauga Lock and Dam, near Chattanooga, Tennessee

    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.