Research Focus Area 2: People, Places, and Pipes

Social and Engineered System: Social and Engineering scientists assess water use behaviors and decisions, and how these influence the urban environment.

Water is critical to almost every aspect of our lives, and yet it is one of Utah’s scarcest resources. With a significant population increase projected to occur in the near future, it has become more important than ever to find improved ways of using and preserving these finite water resources. All Utah residents and a host of industries rely on having access to a clean water supply.


The way in which we use and consume water is often influenced by the infrastructure we build, technologies we use, and approaches to water resources management. Research Focus Area 2 of the iUTAH project seeks to increase the Utah science community’s ability to determine the drivers of water use behaviors and decisions, and how these impact the urban environment. Specifically, iUTAH researchers are collecting systematic data to:


  • Assess the current drivers of water and land use management across the Wasatch Range Metropolitan Area (WRMA);

  • Determine how the physical infrastructure, policies, organizations, and management behaviors interact with changes in water quality and availability;

  • Evaluate alternative water infrastructure designs to identify innovations that could enhance water sustainability in this region.


By collecting systematic data on social, engineered, and natural aspects of the urban water environment in diverse neighborhoods across the WRMA, iUTAH researchers will provide local and state decision-makers with science-based information to guide decisions about how to build and manage Utah’s future urban water systems.