Designing and testing a relative resiliency framework for groundwater management
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Groundwater enables economic growth, agriculture, and human expansion into areas that would otherwise not support large populations due to the water supply resilience. Underground aquifers and springs can provide water to regions and communities which overlie them. The groundwater resources of Texas have so far proven to be relatively resilient in most areas despite considerable pumping, anticipated population growth, climate change, and the threat of drought which may amplify the vulnerability of these resources. During the next 50 years, the population of Texas is expected to increase significantly, with the majority of growth expected in the municipal sector. Texas’ Water Plan, as published every five years by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) in conjunction with Regional Water Planning Groups, aids the policy making process to meet demands for surface and groundwater resources. This research presents a relative resilience framework that incorporates multiple dimensions of resilience and vulnerability using spatial and temporal variables to assess regional water supply resilience on a relative scale. The framework is tested with an analysis of counties along the Interstate-35 corridor. Given the relative nature of the variables and the scales upon which they are measured, the framework becomes stronger and more accurate as additional data are added. Through this framework, a region’s relative water supply resilience against other regions can be measured and visually represented. The relative measurement scale, which this framework is built on, was tested with county-level data to depict the relationships among regions. The framework is scalable and multi-dimensional. It can be adapted for use in other settings, it facilitates discussion of resilience components that affect groundwater resources and the regions they serve.