Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019OK217B

Understanding economic impacts of groundwater and soil moisture interactions in Oklahoma – A decision support tool for sustainable water management

Institute: Oklahoma
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-02-28 End Date: 2020-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $50,000

Principal Investigators: Dr. Jad Ziolkowska

Abstract: In the past decade, annually occurring extreme and exceptional droughts in Oklahoma have impacted up to 95% of the total state area (Drought Monitor, 2017) causing considerable economic losses in many sectors, especially agriculture (Stotts, 2011). Most studies assessing drought events focus on the past and current meteorological, hydrological, and agricultural drought (Huang et al., 2017; Stagge et al., 2015; Awange et al., 2016). At the same time, studies are scarce that would quantify economic repercussions of changing water availability and interactions between soil moisture and groundwater resources on municipal, industrial and agricultural users in Oklahoma. This project aims to improve understanding of those interactions and their economic impacts by developing a decision-support tool for sustainable water management at the state and county level. Objectives: The main objectives of this proposal are to: 1) Investigate economic impacts of water variability in soil moisture and groundwater levels in Oklahoma over time and predict them into the future, 2) Develop a modeling tool for decision-makers, academics, and practitioners to interactively analyze those interactions with a set of customizable scenarios for different climate regions and counties in Oklahoma. Methods, proceeding, and data: To accomplish the research objectives, the project will be conducted in the following steps and apply the following methodologies: 1) Environmental indicators (Palmer Severity Index, groundwater level index, soil moisture index) will be used to quantify changes in soil moisture and groundwater levels as a result of previous and current drought events in Oklahoma in 2003-2018. The application of three different indicators will allow for evaluating and validating meteorological, hydrological, and agricultural drought impacts. 2) Economic and social indicators will be collected for different sectors in all Oklahoma counties (e.g., agricultural production output, water withdrawals, energy use, population changes) to account for changes in economic indicators subject to soil moisture and groundwater level variations. 3) Geospatial weighted non-linear regression models will be developed to estimate future groundwater and soil moisture variability and their impacts on different economic sectors in Oklahoma at the county and state levels. 4) Computer languages Python and C++ will be applied to develop geospatial models for various scenarios and the interactive decision-support tool. Data sets from USGS data base, Mesonet data, GRACE satellite data, USDA NASS statistics, Census Bureau data will be used for this research. Expected outcomes: The research will provide: a) county specific and state-wide models on economic impacts as a result of varying water availability (soil moisture and groundwater levels) on different consumer groups and sectors, and b) an interactive decision-support tool to assist water management and planning processes.