Water Resources Management

, Volume 31, Issue 15, pp 4731–4744 | Cite as

Participatory Modeling Workshops in a Water-Stressed Basin Result in Gains in Modeling Capacity but Reveal Disparity in Water Resources Management Priorities

  • Alex Mayer
  • Enrique R. Vivoni
  • David Kossak
  • Kathleen E. Halvorsen
  • Agustin Robles Morua


Participatory modeling workshops were held in Sonora, México, with the goal of developing water resources management strategies in a water-stressed basin. A model of the water resources system, consisting of watershed hydrology, water resources infrastructure, and groundwater models, was developed deliberatively in the workshops, along with scenarios of future climate and development. Participants used the final version of the water resources systems model to select management strategies. The performance of the strategies was based on the reliability of meeting current and future demands at a daily time scale over a year’s period. Pre- and post-workshop surveys were developed and administered. The survey questions focused on evaluation of participants’ modeling capacity and the utility and accuracy of the models. The selected water resources strategies and the associated, expected reliability varied widely among participants. Most participants could be clustered into three groups with roughly equal numbers of participants that varied in terms of reliance on expanding infrastructure vs. demand modification; expectations of reliability; and perceptions of social, environmental, and economic impacts. The wide range of strategies chosen and associated reliabilities indicate that there is a substantial degree of uncertainty in how future water resources decisions could be made in the region. The pre- and post-survey results indicate that participants believed their modeling abilities increased and beliefs in the utility of models increased as a result of the workshops.


Participatory modeling Water scarcity 



This work has been partially supported by National Science Foundation award CBET 1014818. We acknowledge the excellent facilitation of the workshops by Ana Cristina Pacheco. Finally, we are indebted to the workshop participants for their time and energy.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA
  2. 2.School of Earth and Space Exploration, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built EnvironmentArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Martell Forestry Inc.GaylordUSA
  4. 4.Department of Social Sciences, School of Forest Resources and Environmental ScienceMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA
  5. 5.Departamento de Ciencias del Agua y del Medio AmbienteInstituto Tecnológico de SonoraCuidad ObregónMexico

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