Research Focus Area 3: Modeling for the Future

Coupled Human-Natural System: Complex interactions between people and environmental water systems

Research Focus Area 3 team members
Urbanization, climate and ecosystem all affect the availability and supply of water in Utah, making the job of state and local agencies, specifically water management a challenging one. Research Focus Area 3 brings together all the information gathered by research scientists in the project to understand the connections between human and environmental water systems.


iUTAH’s Research Focus Area 3 has concentrated efforts on increasing the understanding of the integrated human + natural water system. Researchers with backgrounds in climate science, urban planning, and irrigation systems management have developed models representing different dimensions of the water system.


The three primary components used in modeling include data gathered from the iUTAH project on:


  • Water quantity and quality:  information on the sources, quality, and availability of Utah natural water supply


  • Actors:  individual and organizations that make water-related decisions, including homeowners, residents and farmers, and also groups and agencies that make water allocation decisions

  • Structure:  natural (ecosystems, climate), built (landscaping, infrastructure), and social (demographics, laws, culture) that shape how water is moved and managed


By connecting the results from water quality, actors, and structures into land-use models and models representing urban water demand, iUTAH researchers have provided local and state decision-makers with science-based information such as the visualization lab and socio-environmental observatory to guide decisions about the future of water management in the state.