Water Management & Protection Prize (Co-Winner)


decisionCenterDecision Center for a Desert City, (Arizona State University, USA)

Topic: Water Demand Management in Urban Areas

Arizona State University’s Decision Center for a Desert City is at the forefront of integrating physical and social science into a decision support system for enhanced water planning. It is producing proven results in an urban region which has a severe waster outlook.

The project combines the direct implementation of scientific research with complementary economic and social services in a way that yields extraordinary benefit to the region.

DCDG gives us a model of science and policy integration in which decision-makers and scientists collaborate on important research questions and experiment with new methods.

Most importantly, the technologies and strategies developed by the project can easily be implemented in other parts of the world, giving the research a truly global scope.

Winner Profile

The Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) was established in 2004 with a grant from USA's National Science Foundation. It is part of Arizona State University's International Institute for Sustainability.

DCDC is one of five research projects funded by the National Science Foundation’s Decision Making under Uncertainty initiative. DCDC research, outreach, and educational activities focus on water management decisions in central Arizona in the context of the area’s rapid population growth and urbanization, complex political and economic systems, variable desert climate, and the specter of global climate change. Although DCDC is a regional case study, its research products and decision-support tools can be generalized to rapidly growing desert regions worldwide.

DCDC scholars conduct research that integrates knowledge across academic disciplines, and work closely with local and state resource managers to enhance long-term decision making about water resources.

Acceptance Speech

goberspeechDelivered By Dr. Patricia Gober, Co-Director, DCDC:

Your Royal Highness, Honorable Members of the Selection Committee, Conference Organizers and Participants, and Distinguished Visitors,

As co-director of the Decision Center for a Desert City at Arizona State University, I am deeply privileged to accept The Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Award for Water on behalf of Charles Redman, my co-director; other colleagues at DCDC; our sponsors at the National Science Foundation in Washington, DC; and the many local and regional water managers and land planners with whom we collaborate on a regular basis.

I also want to express my sincere gratitude for your generous hospitality, for the opportunity to participate in this timely and valuable international conference, and for the chance to learn more about your experiences in managing desert water resources in the face of rapid urbanization and the uncertainties of climate change.

Our mission at DCDC is to develop and implement scientific tools for effective policy analysis and water planning in the urbanizing desert of Central Arizona.  This challenge is complicated by sobering forecasts of warmer and drier conditions on the watersheds that provide Phoenix’s water supply and by overly rigid and archaic water institutions that were created and designed to manage the natural climate variability of an early-20th Century agricultural civilization, not the uncertainties of climate change in a burgeoning 21st Century city.

We believe that the daunting challenge of managing water in the face of climate change demands a new kind of scientific enterprise—one that includes social and policy scientists along with climate scientists, hydrologists, and engineers; one that embodies a holistic system-wide perspective and considers the dynamic interactions between energy and water use; one that facilitates collaboration between decision makers and scientists, and one that is firmly focused on the future.  We take the “decision center” in our title quite seriously to convey our interest in asking “what if” questions and in exploring the kinds of decisions that we need to make today to avoid futures that we would regret and to pursue strategies that are robust over a wide range of future climate conditions.

I view this honor as a confirmation of our mutual interest in integrative and comprehensive solutions to water resource problems, in finding innovative ways to translate the products of science into tools that are useful to decision makers, and in how to use water in a way that preserves our fragile but magnificent environments for future generations of desert dwellers.

Winning Work

  1. WaterSim: Integrated Modeling and Decision Support
  2. Determinants of Small-Area Water Resources Consumption for the City of Phoenix, Arizona
  3. Climatic Uncertainty and Water Resources Management
  4. New Methods of Estimating Future Water Demand
  5. Public Outreach: Water, Climate, and the Future of Phoenix

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