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Developing a Pragmatic Research Agenda for Examining the Value of Water Supply Reliability

Project: 06-02
Type: White Paper
Year Released: 2009

Program: Principal
Funding Partner: Bureau of Reclamation
Total Investment: $67,400 (Cash)

Principal Investigators: Robert S. Raucher, Ph.D., Stratus Consulting Inc., Robert Wilkinson, Ph.D., University of California–Santa Barbara
Research Associate: Scott Weicksel, Stratus Consulting Inc.

Background

Reliability values arise for water reuse and desalination (desal) projects because the yields from such facilities are independent of drought and other weather-related factors. These factors can significantly impact the year-to-year (or season-to-season) availability of water from traditional water supply sources. This means that there are potentially large beneficial values associated with the yield-reliability of water reuse and desal with respect to cyclical drought periods and potential climate change impacts.

Goals and Objectives

The project developed a pragmatic agenda for research on the value of water supply reliability. These reliability values arise for water reuse and desalination (desal) projects because the yields from such facilities are independent of drought and other weather-related factors that can significantly impact the year-to-year (or season-to-season) availability of water from traditional water supply sources. This means that there are potentially large beneficial values associated with the yield-reliability of water reuse and desal with respect to cyclical drought periods and potential climate change impacts.

Research Approach

The approach consisted of obtaining the input and guidance of an expert panel of water utility managers, water research economists, and other water professionals, convened at a workshop. A set of seven research ideas emerged from a collaborative workshop process. The successful workshop was convened in Santa Barbara (on the UCSB campus), on October 19, 2007. The workshop yielded many useful ideas and discussion, and culminated in the identification of 7 potential research projects related to valuing water supply reliability. “Project Descriptions” (PDs) were developed for each of the 7 topics. Each PD describes the objective and background for the identified research project, as well as a discussion of the research approach and likely tasks, budget, and schedule.

Findings and Conclusions

The work product of the project is a research agenda of potential future projects that will help provide useful information about the value of enhanced water supply reliability. With the input and guidance of an expert panel of water utility managers, water research economists, and other water professionals convened at a workshop, a set of seven research ideas emerged. These projects are intended to be (1) well focused on questions that water agency managers and other water resource planners indicate are most relevant to their activities and (2) technically feasible to execute with a high likelihood of generating useful and robust empirical results.

The research agenda is provided in the form of project descriptions that WRF and other applied research organizations may use as a basis for discussing funding consideration and developing requests for proposals. These research ideas are presented in multipage descriptions for each potential project in which we specify the objectives, methods, key tasks, anticipated outputs, budget, and timeline for each of the high-ranking suggested research ideas.

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