Description

There is much scientific interest and private-sector excitement in the potential for green infrastructure to improve the future and sustainability of water systems. Wetlands, if restored, could improve water reliability for manufacturing and operation in other water-dependent sectors, create habitats, buffer environmental flow regimes, and reduce the risk of drought and floods on public water supplies. The big, unanswered question about green infrastructure is whether the benefitsimproved base flow reliability, damped peak flows, local storagemight be better controlled by coupling to more traditional gray infrastructure (reservoir operations). Modeling, data, and decision-support tools for blending gray and green water infrastructure do not exist. The proposed work will advance a control-theory framework that couples gray and green water infrastructure subsystems and processes and explicitly incorporates the effects of economically motivated human players into the system. The project framework will be designed to minimize the negative effects of extreme climate (drought and flood) on infrastructure processes in the chemical, petroleum, and agricultural sectors within coastal basins of Texas.

Intellectual Merit
The proposed work will pose and answer four basic science questions. First, how does the design of green infrastructure and its coupling to reservoir operations and downstream flow increase the resilience of critical infrastructure and its production in the agricultural and chemical and petroleum sectors? Second, what are the best control algorithms for coordinating green and gray water infrastructure to minimize losses to drought or flood in chemical, petroleum, and agricultural sectors? Third, how do institutional dynamics and bargaining among actors managing water infrastructure force suboptimal designs of green and gray water infrastructure that result in less-resilient chemical, petroleum, and agricultural sectors? And, fourth, how does green infrastructure affect the ecological resilience of coupled human and natural systems while satisfying legal constraints?

The projects approach combines water resources engineering, ecosystem ecology, environmental economics, and data science. Expected outcomes include: 1) representation of wetlands in land-surface models with groundwater-surface water interactions ranging from implicit to fully specified and three dimensional; 2) a general hydrodynamic representation of wetlands coupled to a flexible reservoir-operations scheme; 3) a cooperative game theory approach for analyzing outcomes of public-private partnerships for building out green infrastructure via restoration projects, and 4) a novel control model for optimized design of green and gray infrastructure as well as a characterization of human decisions and tradeoffs as illustrated by cooperative game theory. The team will thread together these diverse components to understand the beneficial impact of green infrastructure design on chemical, petroleum, and agricultural production.

Broader Impacts
Anticipated broader impacts are threefold. First, a sociohydrologic visualization platform will lead to knowledge exchange with water-rights holders and regulators and bargaining between private and public-sector actors. Interviews and workshops will engage corporations like Dow Chemical, river authorities, water rights holders, and NGOs to co-produce modeling and visualization platforms. Second, an online learning platform called EdPlus@ASU will package and disseminate project results into curricula, beyond Texas, to train corporate sustainability officers and river authorities. Third, the project will train at least three graduate students, three postdocs, and many undergraduate students from a minority-serving institution (Texas A&M University at KingsvilleTAMUK) and nurture an incipient research and training collaboration between TAMUK and ASU.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date9/1/178/31/21

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $1,874,988.00

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infrastructure
water
petroleum
game theory
bargaining
drought
wetland
chemical
private sector
train
visualization
student
sustainability
ecosystem engineering
groundwater-surface water interaction
public-private partnership
peak flow
environmental economics
baseflow
curriculum