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The balance between water supply and demand for urban water resources is threatened by population growth, land use changes, and climate change. Interactions among environmental resources, infrastructure, societal norms, and management decisions create complexity and increase the unpredictability of the dynamics of water availability. This research develops a sociotechnical framework to simulate interactions among technical and social systems and assess urban water sustainability. An agent-based model (ABM) is implemented to simulate a community of heterogeneous households as agents. The ABM is coupled with a hydrological watershed model, a water reservoir model, and climate change projections. The increase in the number of household agents, dynamics of consumer demands for landscaping, and enactments of drought restrictions are simulated to assess the depletion of water in the reservoir. Population change projections are used to simulate the increase of households over a long-term planning horizon. Household water demands are simulated using residential end use models to calculate withdraws from a surface water reservoir. Utility manager agents respond to reservoir depletion to enact drought response plans and water use restrictions. Household agents respond to water use restrictions by limiting outdoor water use and to water rebate programs to retrofit water appliances. The ABM framework is applied to Raleigh, NC, which is a rapidly urbanizing area. Falls Lake Reservoir is the major water source for Raleigh, and the ABM framework is validated using historic data describing reservoir levels, withdraws, and releases. Future scenarios are explored to assess the effects of climate change and the effectiveness of policies. Results of the study facilitate insight about the influence of the dynamics of water supply and demands on urban water sustainability.


Session R70, Hydrology and Socio-Economic Aspects



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