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Prospects in Sustainable Water Management

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Water Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 August 2022) | Viewed by 26611

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Guest Editor
School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
Interests: hydrology; water resources; sustainable development
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are at a moment in history when ensuring the use of water in ways that meet both current and future socioeconomic and ecological demand is more important than ever. With increasing water and food demand worldwide, research is needed to help to provide relevant and timely information for managing water resources from local to global scales. As society faces increasing uncertainty and variability around climate, the sustainable management of precious water resources is a must to mitigate risks.

As such, this Special Issue aims synthesize state-of-the-art science around sustainable management of water resources with an eye to assessing the resilience and vulnerability of water as a resource. We invite studies highlighting ongoing and potential future efforts, mechanisms, and approaches explicitly targeting how to characterize and increase sustainability in connection with water resources. We especially seek studies that use approaches to managing land and natural environments in ways that balance social, economic, and ecological needs while considering the impact on water resources (both quantity and quality).

Articles on the following main themes (and other relevant topics) will be considered:

  • Integrated considerations of the social and biophysical aspects of water resources management;
  • Impact of agricultural intensification or habitat degradation on water resources considered through the lens of sustainability;
  • Characterizations of the current vulnerability and/or resilience of society to water as a fundamental resource;

Developments in sustainable water management, including those targeting techniques to improve water policy and governance.

Prof. Dr. Steve W. Lyon
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • water resources management
  • resilience
  • vulnerability
  • water policy
  • ecosystem services
  • climate change mitigation

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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17 pages, 2764 KiB  
Article
High-Frequency Monitoring to Estimate Loads and Identify Nutrient Transport Dynamics in the Little Auglaize River, Ohio
by Shannon Pace, James M. Hood, Heather Raymond, Brigitte Moneymaker and Steve W. Lyon
Sustainability 2022, 14(24), 16848; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142416848 - 15 Dec 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1364
Abstract
New technologies allow for the in situ monitoring of nutrients, specifically nitrogen and phosphorus, in water systems at increasingly higher temporal frequencies. These technologies allow for the near-continuous monitoring of water quality, which can potentially provide new perspectives on temporal variations in nutrient [...] Read more.
New technologies allow for the in situ monitoring of nutrients, specifically nitrogen and phosphorus, in water systems at increasingly higher temporal frequencies. These technologies allow for the near-continuous monitoring of water quality, which can potentially provide new perspectives on temporal variations in nutrient concentrations and transport dynamics, ultimately supporting more targeted and sustainable water management. The current study investigated the utility of monitoring nitrate-N and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) in situ using wet analytical chemistry for one year at 2-h intervals in a small agricultural watershed located in northwestern Ohio. While we saw large variability in the estimated nutrient loads due to daily variations in the high-temporal resolution nutrient concentrations, the nutrient loads were fundamentally driven by high-flow events for this agricultural watershed. Concentration–discharge relations were then developed to help identify how nutrients are stored and released over time scales ranging from low-flow seasonal responses to event-driven high-flow storms. The patterns in the concentration–discharge relations indicated a potential shift in the timing of the mobilization responses for SRP at the event scale over the course of the year. These results suggest that SRP-targeted management practices would need to intercept the dominant delivery pathways of phosphorus in the watershed, such as the tile drainage runoff, to help reduce phosphorus loading. For nitrate-N, patterns in the concentration–discharge relations revealed an increased mobilization response, which was seen during the growing season with low-flow conditions, indicating the potential role of biological uptake instreams across the lowest flows and concentrations of the year. Collectively, high-frequency temporal nutrient data monitored over individual events and across seasons offer guidance for management decisions while allowing us to track progress toward water quality goals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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14 pages, 3004 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Development Goals for the Circular Economy and the Water-Food Nexus: Full Implementation of New Drip Irrigation Technologies in Upper Egypt
by M. A. Abdelzaher and Mohamed M. Awad
Sustainability 2022, 14(21), 13883; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142113883 - 26 Oct 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3400
Abstract
Saving fresh water is a big challenge for the next generation due to enhanced living standards and population growth. In addition, the expansion of agricultural and industrial activities is causing unmatched demands for fresh water supplies across Egypt. The Nile River is Egypt’s [...] Read more.
Saving fresh water is a big challenge for the next generation due to enhanced living standards and population growth. In addition, the expansion of agricultural and industrial activities is causing unmatched demands for fresh water supplies across Egypt. The Nile River is Egypt’s main water resource, representing 69.4% of the total water resources, while rainwater, torrential water and groundwater, as well as recycled agricultural and sanitary drainage water and desalinated seawater, are estimated at about 30.6%. Smart drip irrigation systems are in great demand, especially in Upper Egypt. SDG’s of the circular economy and the WEF nexus lead to full implementation of drip irrigation systems, achieving ~6.6 BM3/year of direct saving from fresh water and/or doubling the cultivated area. In addition to PV tubes and other utilities, renewable energy, e.g, photovoltaic panels, will posses an important role in low-energy driven drip irrigation systems, reducing fossil-uses, CO2 emissions and devolving more sustainable processes that are less dependent on conventional energy sources. The current research work is a case study of the substitution of flood with drip irrigation, and its positive advantages for the Egyptian agricultural economy and capital expenditures (capex), which depends on the country’s infrastructure and availability of utilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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22 pages, 2292 KiB  
Article
How the Agricultural Press Addresses the Slurry–Water Nexus: A Text Mining Analysis
by Astrid Artner-Nehls, Sandra Uthes, Jana Zscheischler and Peter H. Feindt
Sustainability 2022, 14(16), 10002; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141610002 - 12 Aug 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1485
Abstract
Water pollution from intensive livestock husbandry is a persistent social-ecological problem. Since remedies require attention to the slurry–water nexus among practitioners, the agricultural press is a strategic entry point for agenda setting. Systematic content analysis can provide insights into how farming practices and [...] Read more.
Water pollution from intensive livestock husbandry is a persistent social-ecological problem. Since remedies require attention to the slurry–water nexus among practitioners, the agricultural press is a strategic entry point for agenda setting. Systematic content analysis can provide insights into how farming practices and sustainability issues are communicated, which may influence farmers’ attention to the issue and to potential solutions. To address this question, we present a semantic network analysis of three specialized farming magazines in Germany and analyze their coverage of the slurry–water nexus, in particular relationships of actors and issues and co-occurrence with political events. We used text mining methods in order to analyze a text corpus consisting of 4227 online articles published between 2010 and 2020. Results show that one fifth of all slurry-themed articles contained water-related content. We found a shift over time from dominantly management-oriented content towards a politicized debate with more actors and stronger semantic relationships with water protection constructed as an insulated stand-alone issue. This is accompanied by a shift from thematic reporting to episodic reporting focused on environmental legislation and compliance management. This implies less attention to innovations for water-conserving slurry management. Despite its shortcomings, episodic coverage may open up windows of opportunity to improve communication by experts and policy makers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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15 pages, 2043 KiB  
Article
On the Potential of Biochar Soil Amendments as a Sustainable Water Management Strategy
by Steve W. Lyon, Benjamin M. C. Fischer, Laura Morillas, Johanna Rojas Conejo, Ricardo Sánchez-Murillo, Andrea Suárez Serrano, Jay Frentress, Chih-Hsin Cheng, Monica Garcia and Mark S. Johnson
Sustainability 2022, 14(12), 7026; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14127026 - 08 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3258
Abstract
Biochar has been put forward as a potential technology that could help achieve sustainable water management in agriculture through its ability to increase water holding capacity in soils. Despite this opportunity, there are still a limited number of studies, especially in vulnerable regions [...] Read more.
Biochar has been put forward as a potential technology that could help achieve sustainable water management in agriculture through its ability to increase water holding capacity in soils. Despite this opportunity, there are still a limited number of studies, especially in vulnerable regions like the tropics, quantifying the impacts of biochar on soil water storage and characterizing the impacts of biochar additions on plant water composition. To address this critical gap, we present a case study using stable water isotopes and hydrometric data from melon production in tropical agriculture to explore the hydrological impacts of biochar as a soil amendment. Results from our 10-week growing season experiment in Costa Rica under drip irrigation demonstrated an average increase in volumetric soil moisture content of about 10% with an average moisture content of 25.4 cm3 cm−3 versus 23.1 cm3 cm−3, respectively, for biochar amended plots compared with control plots. Further, there was a reduction in the variability of soil matric potential for biochar amended plots compared with control plots. Our isotopic investigation demonstrated that for both biochar and control plots, there was a consistent increase (or enrichment) in isotopic composition for plant materials moving from the roots, where the average δ18O was −8.1‰ and the average δ2H was −58.5‰ across all plots and samples, up through the leaves, where the average δ18O was 4.3‰ and the average δ2H was 0.1‰ across all plots and samples. However, as there was no discernible difference in isotopic composition for plant water samples when comparing across biochar and control plots, we find that biochar did not alter the composition of water found in the melon plant material, indicating that biochar and plants are not competing for the same water sources. In addition, and through the holistic lens of sustainability, biochar additions allowed locally sourced feedstock carbon to be directly sequestered into the soil while improving soil water availability without jeopardizing production for the melon crop. Given that most of the expansion and intensification of global agricultural production over the next several decades will take place in the tropics and that the variability of tropical water cycling is expected to increase due to climate change, biochar amendments could offer a pathway forward towards sustainable tropical agricultural water management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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18 pages, 1488 KiB  
Article
A Comparison of Two Modes of Dairy Farming Intensification and the Impact on Water Quality in Ohio, USA
by Alexandre Joannon, Richard H. Moore, Steve W. Lyon, Samuel A. Miller and Jacques Baudry
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 6201; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14106201 - 19 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1666
Abstract
Two different modes of dairy farming intensification in two adjacent sub-watersheds in the headwaters of the South Fork of Sugar Creek in Ohio, USA, are compared with the potential sustainability consequences in connection to landscape structure and patterns as they impact water quality. [...] Read more.
Two different modes of dairy farming intensification in two adjacent sub-watersheds in the headwaters of the South Fork of Sugar Creek in Ohio, USA, are compared with the potential sustainability consequences in connection to landscape structure and patterns as they impact water quality. A survey was administered between 2005 and 2007 in the southern part of the Sugar Creek watershed where we interviewed 28 Amish and non-Amish farmers. We collected data at the field level on farms totaling 3422 ha to characterize intensifications in production under divergent management strategies and to assess the collective implications for the environmental impacts. In addition, water quality was monitored bi-weekly from 2010–2018 using nutrient concentrations at the sub-watershed outlets and in 1998 and 2017 using instream habitat and biological assessments across both sub-watersheds. The main result was that, despite contrasting farming and cropping systems (small versus large farms, animal grazing versus feed), both Amish and non-Amish dairy operations had increased the number of cows and milk per cow on their farms with similar organic nutrient production by animals per hectare farmed. Equally, surface water quality assessed through our monitoring program was similar with both systems showing decreasing nutrient enrichment and increased habitat quality. Interestingly, these equivalent intensifications and environmental impacts were realized despite contrasting demographics and land use patterns found when comparing Amish and non-Amish operations. Collectively, these results illustrate the need to include socio-cultural dimensions to truly capture the trajectory of development as it pertains to the intersection of sustainability and intensification—especially since the complexity of interactions occurring can potentially mask impacts relative to sustainable water resources management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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20 pages, 3011 KiB  
Article
Concept-Based Integration of Project Management and Strategic Management of Rubber Dam Projects Using the SWOT–AHP Method
by Mohammad Kazem Ghorbani, Hossein Hamidifar, Charalampos Skoulikaris and Michael Nones
Sustainability 2022, 14(5), 2541; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14052541 - 22 Feb 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4643
Abstract
The utilization of rubber dams for water supply and irrigated agriculture is becoming an emerging practice in developing countries. In this study, based on the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, a variety of standards and processes in project management (PM) are integrated [...] Read more.
The utilization of rubber dams for water supply and irrigated agriculture is becoming an emerging practice in developing countries. In this study, based on the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, a variety of standards and processes in project management (PM) are integrated within the framework of the strategic management (SM) of an organization responsible for the management of new small-scale hydraulic infrastructures, e.g., rubber dam projects. The most important internal and external factors in PM and organizational SM of rubber dam projects in Iran are initially identified, adapted, and integrated. Thereafter, the factors are weighted, evaluated, and analyzed using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and combined SWOT–AHP methods. Based on the results, the total weighted scores of the internal and external factors are 2.353 and 2.718, respectively. Hence, the derived main strategy of the organization is WO. This means that the weakness factors can be reduced through the opportunities available for projects. Finally, a new methodology called “strategy matrix” resulting from “priority matrix” is proposed to prioritize and determine the organization’s possible strategies. The outputs demonstrate the first three priorities as a mix of the main strategy alternatives, e.g., W1O1, W7O1, and W9O1. The organization, hence, is proposed to use the economic benefits of rubber dam projects to further monitor organizational units, the project’s resource management, and the project’s stakeholder management (not the project’s stakeholders). The proposed research could be conceived as a pilot for sustainable management in developing countries, where strategic project management can produce important operational benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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20 pages, 4060 KiB  
Article
Leveraging Multi-Source Data and Digital Technology to Support the Monitoring of Localized Water Changes in the Mekong Region
by Orn-uma Polpanich, Dhyey Bhatpuria, Tania Fernanda Santos Santos and Chayanis Krittasudthacheewa
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1739; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031739 - 02 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1748
Abstract
The limited availability of high-resolution monitoring systems for the drought phenomena and water dynamics affected by weather anomalies hinders policy decisions in a multitude of ways. This paper introduces the availability of the high-resolution Water Monitoring System (WMS) developed from a mix of [...] Read more.
The limited availability of high-resolution monitoring systems for the drought phenomena and water dynamics affected by weather anomalies hinders policy decisions in a multitude of ways. This paper introduces the availability of the high-resolution Water Monitoring System (WMS) developed from a mix of sophisticated multi-spectral satellite imageries, analytic and data sciences, and cloud computing, for monitoring the changes in water levels and vegetation water stress at the local scale. The WMS was tested in the Lower Mekong Region (LMR) case basin, Thailand’s Chi River Basin, in the period from January 2021 to April 2021, the dry season. The overall quality of the VHI, VCI, TCI, and NDVI drought simulation results showed a statistically positive Pearson correlation with the reservoir and dam water volume data (ranged between 0.399 and 0.575) but demonstrated a strong negative correlation with the groundwater level data (between −0.355 and −0.504). Further investigation and more detailed analysis of the influence of different physical environmental conditions related to change in groundwater level should be considered to increase scientific knowledge and understanding about the changing nature of the local system from local perspectives with the alternative use of drought indices in data-poor areas. Our result suggests that the WMS can provide quantitative spatiotemporal variations of localized and contextualized surface water changes as a preliminary analysis. The WMS results can offer guidance for finding a better smaller unit management that suits the local conditions, such as water resource management, disaster risk reduction measures (i.e., drought and flood), irrigation practice, land use planning, and crop management. The existing WMS is geared toward the early warning of water and agricultural development, progress on the SDGs, utilization of digital innovation, and improved abilities of decision-makers to monitor and foresee extreme weather events earlier and with high spatial accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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21 pages, 3293 KiB  
Article
Assessing Groundwater Level Declination in Dhaka City and Identifying Adaptation Options for Sustainable Water Supply
by Mehanaz Moshfika, Subir Biswas and M. Shahjahan Mondal
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1518; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031518 - 28 Jan 2022
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 4267
Abstract
Dhaka city, having a population of about 18 million, depends heavily on groundwater as a source of quality water. However, the city is encountering a rapid depletion of groundwater, and its groundwater-based water supply is at risk of failure. This study was carried [...] Read more.
Dhaka city, having a population of about 18 million, depends heavily on groundwater as a source of quality water. However, the city is encountering a rapid depletion of groundwater, and its groundwater-based water supply is at risk of failure. This study was carried out to analyze the groundwater depletion scenarios occurring from 1970 to 2019 in the city and to find suitable options to sustain its water supply. The trends in groundwater levels (GWLs) were quantified by the non-parametric Sen’s slope and their significances were assessed by the modified Mann-Kendall test. Contour maps of GWL were generated to develop the contemporary GWL scenario in the city. Key informant interviews (KIIs) with the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) officials, groundwater experts and researchers, in addition to semi-structured interviews with the DWASA consumers were conducted to assess current adaptation practices and to develop potential adaptation options. The effectiveness of the options was assessed by strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis and the options were ranked through a normalization process of the weights given by the KIIs for future adaptabilities. The GWLs were found to be decreasing all over the city, varying from 0.6–2.4 m/year. The contour maps demonstrated that the groundwater of the central area had depleted more than the peripheral areas. The locations vulnerable to severe groundwater depletion were identified to be the Khilgaon, Sobujbagh, Motijheel, Dhanmondi, and Sutrapur areas and some parts of the Cantonment and Mirpur areas. Potential options identified were adopting more surface water treatment plants, rainwater harvesting, implementing a block tariff system, reducing non-revenue water, metering water consumption, and promoting public awareness. Spatially-varying adaptation strategies were also suggested for different zones. Some measures adopted by DWASA were not supported by the respondents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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Review

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16 pages, 1733 KiB  
Review
Spatially Explicit River Basin Models for Cost-Benefit Analyses to Optimize Land Use
by Jawad Ghafoor, Marie Anne Eurie Forio and Peter L. M. Goethals
Sustainability 2022, 14(14), 8953; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148953 - 21 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1599
Abstract
Recently, a wide range of models have been used in analyzing the costs and benefits of land utilization in river basins. Despite these advances, there is not enough information on how to select appropriate models to perform cost-benefit analyses. A literature search in [...] Read more.
Recently, a wide range of models have been used in analyzing the costs and benefits of land utilization in river basins. Despite these advances, there is not enough information on how to select appropriate models to perform cost-benefit analyses. A literature search in the Web of Science (WOS) online database was implemented and resulted in the selection of 27 articles that utilized models to perform cost-benefit analyses of river basins. The models reviewed in these papers were categorized into five types: process-based, statistical, probabilistic, data-driven, and modeling frameworks or integrated models. Twenty-six models were reviewed based on their data and input variable needs and user convenience. A SWOT analysis was also performed to highlight the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of these models. One of the main strengths is their ability to perform scenario-based analyses while the main drawback is the limited availability of data impeding the use of the models. We found that, to some extent, there is an increase in model applicability as the number of input variables increases but there are exceptions to this observation. Future studies should explicitly report on the necessary time needed for data collection, model development and/or training, and model application. This information is highly valuable to users and modelers when choosing which model to use in performing a particular cost-benefit analysis. These models can be developed and applied to assist sustainable development as well as the sustainable utilization of agricultural parcels within a river basin, which can eventually reduce the negative impacts of intensive agriculture and minimize habitat degradation on water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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Other

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19 pages, 2280 KiB  
Concept Paper
Applying a Coupled Hydrologic-Economic Modeling Framework: Evaluating Alternative Options for Reducing Impacts for Downstream Locations in Response to Upstream Development
by Maria Amaya, Faye Duchin, Erich Hester and John C. Little
Sustainability 2022, 14(11), 6630; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116630 - 28 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1462
Abstract
Economic input-output and watershed models provide useful results, but these kinds of models do not use the same spatial units, which typically limits their integration. A modular hydrologic-economic modeling framework is designed to couple the Rectangular Choice-of-Technology (RCOT) model, a physically constrained, input-output [...] Read more.
Economic input-output and watershed models provide useful results, but these kinds of models do not use the same spatial units, which typically limits their integration. A modular hydrologic-economic modeling framework is designed to couple the Rectangular Choice-of-Technology (RCOT) model, a physically constrained, input-output (I-O) model, with the Hydrological Simulation Program-Fortran (HSPF). Integrating these two models can address questions relevant to both economists and hydrologists, beyond addressing only administrative or watershed concerns. This framework is utilized to evaluate alternative future development prospects within Fauquier County, northern Virginia, specifically residential build-up, and agricultural intensification in the upstream location of the local watershed. Scenarios are designed to evaluate the downstream impacts on watershed health caused by upstream development and changes made within the economic sectors in response to these impacts. In the first case, an alternative residential water technology is more efficient than the standard for ensuring adequate water supply downstream. For scenarios involving upstream agricultural intensification, a crop shift from grains to fruits and vegetables is the most efficient of the alternatives considered. This framework captures two-way feedback between watershed and economic systems that expands the types of questions one can address beyond those that can be analyzed using these models individually. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects in Sustainable Water Management)
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