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.
As part of a multiyear study on climate-change decisionmaking under uncertainty, RAND researchers worked with water agencies in California to help them better understand how climate change might affect their systems and what actions, if any, they should take to address this challenge.
Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of water-efficiency programs can be difficult, because not all the benefits are easily quantified. An economic framework based on two tools from the California Urban Water Conservation Council helps estimate the avoided costs and environmental benefits of increasing water-use efficiency.
Owners of commercial buildings have many options to improve water-use efficiency, but not all efficiency investments will make financial sense to the owner. RAND developed an analytical framework to help building managers and other stakeholders make sensible water-use efficiency investments.
The amount of water a typical commercial building needs to provide essential services is highly variable. A new framework and tool provides a convenient way to consider the potential value of water-efficiency investments under price uncertainty without collecting extensive data or hiring a consultant.