A hydro-economic model of South Florida water resources system

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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. South Florida's water infrastructure and ecosystems are under pressure from socio-economic growth. Understanding the region's water resources management tradeoffs is essential for developing effective adaptation strategies to cope with emerging challenges such as climate change and sea level rise, which are expected to affect many other regions in the future. We describe a network-based hydro-economic optimization model of the system to investigate the tradeoffs, incorporating the economic value of water in urban and agricultural sectors and economic damages due to urban flooding while also accounting for water supply to sustain fragile ecosystems such as the Everglades and coastal estuaries. Results illustrate that maintaining high reliability of urban water supply under scenarios of reduced water availability (i.e., drier climate conditions) may trigger economic losses to the Everglades Agricultural Area, which will likely become more vulnerable as competition over scarce water resources increases. More pronounced economic losses are expected in urban and agricultural areas when flows to the Everglades are prioritized. Flow targets for coastal estuaries are occasionally exceeded under optimal flow allocations to various demand nodes, indicating that additional storage may be needed to maintain the environmental integrity of the estuarine ecosystems. Wetter climate conditions, on the other hand, generally lead to increased flows throughout the system with positive effects on meeting water demands, although flood mitigation efforts will necessitate additional releases to the estuaries. Strengths and limitations of the hydro-economic model are discussed.

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Science of the Total Environment