Characterizing the Human Dimension of Urban Water Systems in the Southwestern United States
Virtual seminar presented by Dr. Renee Obringer, SESYNC
Abstract: Providing adequate water supply to the growing number of urban residents will be a challenge faced by many utility managers throughout the remainder of this century. This challenge will be exacerbated by intensifying climate change that is likely to bring more frequent and intense droughts to some regions in the United States, including the Southwest. Understanding the impacts of these droughts on urban areas and the role that people play in either mitigating or intensifying them is crucial if society is to maintain its current trajectory towards sustainable urban development. Focusing on the role of people, this talk will discuss the characterization of residents’ attitudes and values surrounding water conservation and climate change within three major southwestern cities—Denver (CO), Las Vegas (NV), and Phoenix (AZ). In particular, the modeling framework leverages a state-of-the-art statistical machine learning algorithm to cluster survey respondents into seven categories, or archetypes. These archetypes can be used by water managers that are interested in developing community-specific intervention plans for water conservation, as well as by researchers interested in modeling the impacts of attitudes and beliefs on actual water consumption. In the face of rapid urbanization and climate change, it will become increasingly important to understand the relationship between climate change and urban systems, as well as the impact that people can have on these systems.
Bio: Dr. Renee Obringer is a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). Prior to starting her postdoctoral position SESYNC, Renee obtained her PhD in Environmental and Ecological Engineering from Purdue University. Her research interests focus on understanding and evaluating the impact of climate change on urban water systems. More broadly, Renee harnesses methods from data science, computational social science, and civil engineering to study the nexus between climate change, people, and urban systems.