Collaborative Research WSC Category 2:: Building robust decision-making for South Florida water resources through ecosystem service valuation, hydro-economic optimization and conflict resolution modeling Grant

Collaborative Research WSC Category 2:: Building robust decision-making for South Florida water resources through ecosystem service valuation, hydro-economic optimization and conflict resolution modeling .


  • Water management in south Florida is characterized by the need to balance multiple objectives. Among the objectives are the maintenance of high groundwater levels to limit seawater intrusion and flood control measures that are also used to mitigate dry-season water shortages. In addition, south Florida's current population of 6 million is projected to grow to 10 million over the next 20 years, and urban water demand must be reliably managed. In this exceptionally vulnerable region, sea level rise and salt water intrusion have already impacted drinking water supplies and threaten the integrity of low-lying and highly-valued built and natural environments as diverse as Miami Beach and the Everglades. Long-term adaptive strategies are needed to ensure sustainable water resources for expanding populations, agriculture, and wetlands that serve multiple functions, including support of Florida's fishing industry. Development of such strategies has been hampered by conflicting stakeholder interests and technical, economic, and political challenges. This project will conduct highly interdisciplinary research, utilizing the expertise of multiple institutions, to investigate the hydrologic, economic, ecologic, and human behavioral dimensions of sustainable water management and land use planning under various climate change, economic, population, and sea level rise scenarios. The research will employ hydro-economic optimization approaches based on robust decision making to develop management strategies that ensure the resilience of water supplies for the built and natural systems, while also accounting for the broad-sector value of water use. Optimization criteria will incorporate the results of project research linking water management, ecological function, and the economic value of ecosystem services. New experimental approaches will be implemented to better understand the impacts of scenario information type and uncertainty on both selection of decision criteria and evaluation of model predictions among individuals and groups of local stakeholders. These experiments are designed to improve understanding of the roles of cognitive and perceptual biases in decision-making when stakeholders examine hydro-economic projections coupled with scenario forecasts. Comparative behavioral analyses of stakeholder evaluations and institutional decision-making will provide unique insights into how information type, information content, and cognitive biases combine to influence risk perception, and how the perceived risks to individual and collective well-being influence scenario selection. Finally, with agency and stakeholder involvement, the project will collaboratively develop recommendations for adaptive water management plans that foster long-term support from the stakeholders. Low-lying coastal regions subject to sea level rise, climate change, and diverse water demands, including growing populations, will benefit from the development of innovative, pragmatic approaches to optimizing the social-ecological benefits of water resources allocation. The research will include novel approaches for dynamically incorporating economics into stakeholder evaluations of adaptive land use and water management strategies. Local, state, and federal agencies responsible for managing south Florida's water resources will benefit from analyses of adaptive schemes that explicitly incorporate uncertainty estimates of potential outcomes. The multiple societies that exist in south Florida, whose options for managing public water resources are limited by climatic, physical, and/or legal constraints, require this type of integrated assessment to promote cooperative decision-making while preparing for uncertain hydro-climatic conditions and socioeconomic futures.

date/time interval

  • July 3, 2012 - December 31, 2018

administered by

sponsor award ID

  • EAR-1204762

local award ID

  • AWD000000001730