Research Focus Area 2: People, Places, and Pipes

Social and Engineered Systems: Assessing water use behaviors and decisions, and how these influence the urban environment


Research Focus Area 2 team members
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. Residents, recreation, and industry all rely on having access to a clean water supply in Utah. The ways in which we use and consume water is often influenced by the infrastructure we build, technologies we use, and approaches to water resources management.


iUTAH’s Research Focus Area 2 brought social and engineering scientist’s together to improve understanding of the drivers of water use behaviors and decisions, and how these impact the urban environment. Specifically, iUTAH researchers collected 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 have provided local and state decision-makers with science-based information such as the household and water surveys to guide decisions about how to build and manage Utah’s future urban water systems.