Planning for Change: A Case Study in Las Vegas

Climate change and urbanization are significant planning challenges for water supply management. New methods developed to address this challenge have significantly advanced the assessment of strategies to adapt water infrastructure to climate change, but they still have a critical limitation: they fail to account for the adaptive nature of human management in response to change. This gap is particularly apparent at the urban scale, as many water management and climate adaptation decisions are made by cities.

To address this challenge, Tufts Water Diplomacy | IGERT fellow Margaret Garcia is developing a coupled socio-hydrologic model of urban water management. The Las Vegas metropolitan area was used as a case study to develop an initial model due to its combined challenges of population growth and climate change, common to many cities in the arid west. She is currently expanding this work to other cases to develop a more widely applicable model. Margaret conducted the initial modeling work as a visiting researcher at the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, through their Young Scientist Summer Program.