ENVR 755 - Analysis of Water Resource Systems

Greg Characklis
Rosenau 139
Email: charack@email.unc.edu
Phone: (919) 843-5545

Class Location and Time: Tue/Thu, 11-12:15pm

Office Hours: After class or by appointment

Calculus and some computational skills (e.g. Excel). Knowledge of a mathematical programming language (e.g., Mathematica, Matlab) would be helpful, but not required. Those that have taken ENVR 291/PLAN 234 will find that background to be useful, but it is not required.

Water Resource Economics: Scarcity, Policies, and Projects, R. C. Griffin (2006, First Edition, MIT Press).

Material will also be drawn from Civil and Environmental Systems Engineering, ReVelle, C. S., Whitlach, E. E. and J. R, Wright (2nd Edition).  In addition, there will a number of handouts on various topics

Course Motivation:
Water scarcity has become a reality in a growing number of regions throughout the world, as increasing demands associated with population growth and economic development have strained finite water resources. Growing environmental concerns over the maintenance of instream flows and the impacts of large-scale water resource development projects (e.g., dams) have served to further limit, and in some cases even reduce, the volume of available supplies. In addition, research suggests that global climate change may increase hydrologic variability (e.g. more frequent droughts) making the maintenance of water supply reliability even more challenging. This combination of factors has made meeting regional water demands more difficult, and a growing number of regions are seeking water resource strategies that will allow them to meet future water supply goals within budgetary and regulatory constraints. The traditional path of simply developing additional supplies, or expanding existing facilities, is no longer practical in many places. Therefore, planning solutions that involve integrating new development with conservation activities and reallocation (e.g., tradable rights) have become increasingly attractive. The development of such solutions requires the use of tools from both engineering and economics, as well as an understanding of the related legal and political institutions.

Course Objectives:
This course is intended to develop a student’s ability to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate approaches to water resource management in terms of their technical feasibility, economic merits, and public policy implications. This will include assessing plans for the development of new infrastructure, as well as the expansion of existing supplies. Economic concepts (e.g., supply, demand, economic efficiency) are discussed, followed by an introduction to methods for computing and maximizing the net benefits of water use. Engineering concepts related to water supply and conveyance, such as hydrologic frequency analysis and pipe/open channel flow, are presented and applied. Both engineering and economic principles are incorporated into optimization exercises (Linear programming, Multi-objective optimization, Lagrangian techniques) that are used as a means of policy analysis. Special effort is made to include consideration of legal, regulatory, and political factors at all levels of this course (i.e. lectures, readings, assignments), with the expectation that students will gain sufficient awareness of these issues to incorporate them into regional water resource analyses.

Course Format:
The multi-faceted nature of the analytical techniques developed in this course do not lend themselves well to examinations, therefore grades will be determined on the basis of student performance on several (4-5) “mini-projects”. These will be lengthy and require a substantial amount of forethought regarding problem formulation, solution methods, and assumptions, so please do not wait until the last minute to begin work on them. In addition, there will be group projects in which students will have an opportunity to diagnose and evaluate water resource challenges in a selected region of the basis of technical, economic, and policy-related criteria. Students will then produce a series of recommendations for improved regional water management and defend them in both written and oral presentations. Grades will be based on performance in the mini-projects (50%), final project (40%), and participation in class discussions and activities (10%).

ENVR 755 Analysis of Water Resource Systems

Lecture # Title Remarks

1 Introduction Chap. 1

2 Economic Concepts: Supply & Demand Chap. 2

3 Economic Concepts: Supply & Demand  

4 Benefits, Costs & Net Benefits  

5 Static Economic Efficiency  

6 Discount Rates/Dynamic Efficiency Chap. 3

7 Dynamic Efficiency  

8 Maximizing Net Benefits  

9 Institutions and Policymaking Chap. 4 & 5

10 Water Transfers/Markets Chap. 7

11 Water Transfers/Markets Chap. 6

12 Regional Economic Models of Water Use  

13 Regional Economic Models of Water Use Chap 11

14 Infrastructure/Cost-Benefit Analyses  

15 Infrastructure/Cost-Benefit Analyses  

16 Reservoir/Water Supply Planning  

17 Preliminary Project Presentations  

Spring Break  

Spring Break  

18 Reservoir/Water Supply Planning  

19 Linear Programming Handouts

20 Linear Programming  

21 Optimization of Water Supply Systems  

22 Optimization of Water Supply Systems  

23 Hydropower, Recreation, Instream Flows Handouts

24 Hydropower, Recreation, Instream Flows  

25 Multi-objective Linear Programming Handouts

26 Multi-objective Linear Programming  

27 Optimization of Regional Water Resource Sys  

28 Optimization of Regional Water Resource Sys

29 Final Project Presentations