What we do

Water is an increasingly critical factor to achieve food security, energy security and to sustain ecosystems

As the world population keeps growing, so does our demand for food, water and energy. Many river basins are now overexploited or dangerously approaching the threshold of renewable water resources, leading to overall economic losses, environmental degradation, declining food and energy security. Local interventions are now more difficult to plan as they generate third-party, difficult-to-predict, impacts elsewhere in the basin. Moreover, at the beginning of the 21st century, we have reached a point where our consumption of fossil fuel energy is changing the composition of the atmosphere, exacerbating the interdependencies between water, food, energy and the environment.

Managing water resources requires understanding the interactions between societies and both their natural and built environments

Managing water resources typically involves siting, designing, building and operating infrastructure that provides water in sufficient quantities and qualities where and when we want them and at reasonable financial, social and environmental costs. Non-structural management measures, such as water pricing and inter-sectoral water transfers, are gaining traction as the cost of those hydraulic infrastructure keeps rising. Hydro-economic modelling can inform policy makers and stakeholders (e.g. power companies, water utilities, conservation organizations) on those management decisions. By integrating essential hydrologic, engineering, institutional and economic processes in a water system, a hydro-economic model captures the complex interactions between societies and both their natural and built environments, making it possible to assess the impacts of management decisions on the rest of the system and vice-versa.

We develop and use hydro-economic tools and methods to provide actionable information to water managers and stakeholders in order to sustainably manage water and connected resources

For example, these tools and methods have been used to analyze the following water resources management problems:

  • Adapting water resources systems to climate change;
  • Determining efficient and equitable water allocation policies between competing uses;
  • Developing multipurpose multireservoir operating policies;
  • Assessing water users’ vulnerabilities to global changes;
  • Developing water and benefit sharing mechanisms in transboundary river basins;
  • Assessing tradeoffs between competing uses
  • Determining the economic value of water in complex water resources systems