Food-Energy-Water Nexus in Texas

I am a collaborator for a proposal that has been submitted to the NSF Smart and Connected Communities program entitled, “Community-Energy-Water Systems Sustainability in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions”. For this grant, we seek to produce a joint product between researchers and stakeholders that models an agreed-upon set of linkages between sectors, as well as the strengths and risks that the system faces. We propose an approach that brings together a team of relevant stakeholders from stakeholder groups within the water and energy engineered systems. This will provide a group of engaged community members with a basis and a context for interactions across agent types. This will be formalized with the development of a Bayesian belief network (BBN) that, through stakeholder participation, identifies relevant agents, linkages between agents, feedback loops, system drivers, and important policy levers in order to scale and identify a researchable problem. This BBN will provide an aggregated framework for further model development that incorporates direct stakeholder beliefs and knowledge.

The final product from this proposal will be an analysis platform, scalable to other communities of interest, for analyzing stakeholder preferences, priorities, and input that can help make science-based and holistic actions regarding CEW systems, in contrast to decisions made by independent groups without consideration of the linkages between sectors. The proposed work will help stakeholders understand the short-term and long-term impacts of their actions on community welfare, including economic sustainability, safety, health, and quality of life.

While the focus of this grant is on the El Paso region, this methodology could be extended to analyze CEW issues in any other region. The El Paso region is a large metropolitan area that faces similar threats as other regions, and the findings from this work can be used as a template for other communities. In particular, the BBN allows for the incorporation of direct stakeholder input and translates this input into what can form the basis of scientific research. Because the BBN approach to studying the CEW system incorporates stakeholder input so directly, it is also scalable to smaller or larger communities, as well as different agent groups and energy-water systems.