America’s Water Analysis, Synthesis, and Heuristics (AWASH)

The America’s Water initiative envisions the future of water in the nation with an interactive modeling environment that explicitly considers the capacity expansion of water and energy infrastructure, potential reallocation of cropping patterns, energy and economic scenarios, prescribed water rights/allocation mechanisms and ecological needs. 

To address this objective, the CWC team has developed the America’s Water Analysis, Synthesis, and Heuristics (AWASH) model that connects water supply and demand to a wealth of sectors, dynamics, and decisions around water, energy, and food. This framework allows for a more productive analysis of trade-offs and interactions among the sectors. The following elements are incorporated into the model:

  • Country-wide processes, such as total energy demand, government policies and the impacts of international trade as well as aggregate measures of population, industrial activity and climate impacts.  We are also studying and estimating the trajectories of key indicators such as the nations’ ecological footprint and the human development index.
  • A mass-balance hydrological model of water, and a decision model for the production and import and export of food and energy resources using GIS data to provide the parameters for a network of related county models.
  • Optimal times and places to grow specific crops based on water and energy capacity within each county. The time horizon of the model spans over 50 years, to understand the evolution of land use and water and energy infrastructure, The model can provide policy makers with future scenarios of future spatial patterns and long-term transitions under the drivers of global change.
  • Macroeconomic variables on national and local levels, using Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) and including relevant macroeconomic variables at the national, state, and metropolitan levels. In addition, the model will simulate the relationships between economic output, prices, wages, employment, interest rates, consumption, and investment estimated at the national level, for each state, and for each metropolitan area.

In concert with our work to assess and envision the past, present and future of America’s water use, the project team is creating modules and curricula for communication, visualization, education and outreach to make national water issues more transparent and understandable to diverse audiences.

Water, energy, food, climate and the economy are typically viewed as complicated subjects, with overwhelming details and hard-to-visualize inter-relationships, especially across time and space. No curriculum yet captures how market forces and infrastructure stressors impact the water/energy/agriculture nexus of our nation.

To address this gap, the team used cutting-edge visualization tools such as Google Motion Charts, and Google Public Data Viewer that allow for an effective, interactive presentation of insights into questions such as:

  • How does drought lead to changes in surface and groundwater availability, and how does it affect agricultural production and income at the local, state or national level?
  • How has water use in agriculture and energy production changed at the county level as per capita income has increased?

These modules will be open source available for use in K-12 or university classes or for public presentations by anyone who would like to develop their own custom modules or presentations. In addition, the team will partner with educators and schools at different levels to create a research-infused curriculum for education and outreach for K-12 and undergraduate students.