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Agent-Based Modeling of Water Resource Management in Idaho


Using integrated, computational models to improve water security in the semi-arid western United States.

The Project

Gaining a holistic understanding of water resources in urban settings requires knowledge about the physical system (e.g. climate, vegetation) and the social system that stores and moves water across the landscape (e.g. reservoirs, irrigation canals). The goal of this project is to model the hydrology of the Boise and Snake River Basins by coupling a hydrologic model and a social model representing how we move water through the basin.

While building our coupled model, we will create a framework for modeling water resources with agent-based models (ABM). ABMs are models where individuals (agents) are unique entities that interact with each other and their environment. This type of model allows for agents to adapt to new information based on their objectives and decision-making strategies.

Our goal for creating a water resources ABM framework is to make these models more transferable across systems, which could increase synthesis of findings across basins. A first step will be to characterize the main agents that use and manage water resources. This is being done in conjunction with the ID EPSCoR Treasure Valley Water Atlas project which is characterizing where Boise River Basin water comes from and how it moves through the basin.

Coupling our ABM with a regional hydrologic model (WRF-hydro) will allow us to examine emergent properties of the system as the agents respond to various climatic scenarios, and land-use change. This dynamic model could be used to assess questions like: Will current water management practices work well in an extended drought? How will the conversion of agricultural land to urban development impact water demand and streamflow?

The Team

Kendra Kaiser, Boise State University
Vicken Hillis, Boise State University
Lejo Flores, Boise State University

Funding Sources
National Science Foundation Logo

Managing Idaho's Landscapes for Ecosystem Services logo