Sustainable Yield for Aquifers: Management Using Hydrogeologic and Economic Evaluation Methods With Hybridized Decision Support Systems

EPA Grant Number: FP916320
Title: Sustainable Yield for Aquifers: Management Using Hydrogeologic and Economic Evaluation Methods With Hybridized Decision Support Systems
Investigators: Pierce, Suzanne A.
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Klieforth, Barbara I
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006
Project Amount: $93,406
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Geology , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The sustainable use of water resources is a question of importance to the long-term survival of civilization. How a culture or geographic region defines sustainability is highly variable and dependent upon the peculiar circumstances of each region. The amount of groundwater that can be pumped from an aquifer is called a “safe” or “sustainable” yield. From a hydrogeological perspective, the yield of an aquifer is typically limited by the relationship between recharge and storage for a given aquifer, but from an economic perspective, the determination of allocation is dependent upon whether water is viewed as a commodity or a common pool resource. Science can contribute to the topic of water resource allocation by providing information about the workings of an aquifer system and creating tools to quantify the amount of available water. The objective of this research project is to develop a dynamic analytical and relational database system to aid management decisions related to the quantity of water that may be safely pumped from an aquifer.


A fundamental approach to describing the behavior of an aquifer system and determining a feasible range of groundwater extraction rates will be developed. Input data for the decision support system (DSS) will derive from a combination of hydrogeologic models for water balance calculations coupled with economic valuation models, geographic information systems, urbanization parameters, together with legal and ecosystem constraints to identify feasible water resource management alternatives. Calculations for sustainable yield will be developed using tool sets from hydrogeology, resource valuation, engineering optimization, and relational database modeling. Ultimately, a hybridized decision support prototype model will be created by linking or loosely connecting analytical models within a spatial context. The sustainable yield DSS prototype developed during the course of this research will be applied to the Barton Springs Segment of the Edwards aquifer located in central Texas. Resulting calculations will be presented in an interactive spatial DSS that can provide guidance for groundwater management and an integrative sustainable yield model.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, decision support system, water allocation, relational database, hydrogeology, hydrogeologic models, water balance, economic valuation models, economic methods, resource valuation, urbanization parameters, aquifer, groundwater, Texas, TX, groundwater management, sustainable groundwater extraction,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Geographic Area, Hydrology, State, Ecology and Ecosystems, decision-making, Economics & Decision Making, hybridized decision support system, economic research, decision analysis, economic benefits, environmental decision making, Texas (TX), hydrogeologic models, aquatic ecosystems, aquatic resources

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2004
  • 2005
  • Final