Abstract for:System-wide Policy Solutions for Water Scarcity Issues

Policy interventions in water management conventionally focus upon the portions of the socio-hydrologic system that directly relate to water and usually lead to unintended consequences, which potentially exacerbate water scarcity issues and present challenges to the future viability of many rural agricultural communities. This paper deploys a social-hydrology system dynamics model to illustrate how expanding policy space of hydrology models to include socioeconomic feedbacks could address these challenges. In this regard, example policies that can potentially mitigate water scarcity in the Hatch and Mesilla Valleys of southern New Mexico are examined. The simulation results reveal that the proposed boundary expansion unveils intervention options not commonly exercised by water decision-makers. Economic policies such as increasing workforce participation, encouraging investment in capital, and facilitating land adjustment processes diminish water scarcity without compromising the system’s economic performance. Further, improvements to the state of the water availability will not impact surface water delivery to downstream users. The results also bolster the argument that integrated approaches to water research that include socioeconomic feedbacks are needed.