Resilient urban water systems in a nonstationary climate, land use and sea level conditions

Nonstationary climate, land use and sea level conditions could alter runoff, and transport of sediment, nutrients, and other pollutants. As excess pollutants accumulate in water bodies, eutrophication ensues and likely reduces the efficiency of watershed protection strategies by increasing buildup and washoff of pollutants from land surfaces. I aim to estimate the degree of resiliency and reliability that management strategies can provide under these nonstationary stressors. Robust tools and frameworks are required to advance our ability to identify the most resilient and cost-effective management strategies that help simultaneously achieve environmental, ecological, and economic goals in watersheds.

Ecological, economic and social benefits of green infrastructure

While positive effects of green infrastructure on water quantity and quality have been extensively explored, their ecological, economic and social benefits have been rarely investigated. In addition to reducing polluted stormwater runoff, green infrastructure can positively impact energy consumption, groundwater recharge, urban heat island, air quality, carbon reduction, property prices, stress reduction, recreation and other elements of community health that have monetary or other social value. I aim to develop and apply quantitative models and frameworks that combine these benefits to better understand the complex interactions in coupled natural-human systems.

Sustainable planning of the food-energy-water nexus

Food, energy, and water are essential components of sustainable and healthy communities. Green infrastructure are an important component of sustainable urban communities as they create solutions to environmental problems through restoration and preservation of natural ecosystems, which in turn contributes to enhance food, energy, and water security. Green infrastructure can be used in making water available for agriculture, electricity generation and water supply.  I aim to develop a systematic approach to address to evaluate optimized strategies for green infrastructure investment to support sustainable decision-making and create social, economic, and environmental opportunities for increasing water use efficiency and availability.

Modeling tools for sustainable development

In spite of numerous studies quantifying the efficiency of green infrastructure, a critical question is which combination of practices best achieves the watershed restoration goals. Implementing green infrastructure can have large upfront and recurring costs. Funding for water quality programs is limited and often must compete with other priorities. My goal is to develop simulation-optimization tools and frameworks for selecting the most appropriate combination of green infrastructure considering site constraints, limitations of particular green infrastructure, and available resources. Planners, decision makers, and watershed groups at the regional and local levels can use coupled simulation-optimization tools to solve diverse management and planning problems in a wide range of conditions.

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