Collaborative Research: WSC-Category 1. Sustainability Dynamics for Water Resources in a Rapidly Urbanizing and Climatically Sensitive Region
The University of Idaho and Washington State University are awarded a Water, Sustainability and Climate Type 1 award to develop the organizing framework for a systematic assessment of urbanization and its impacts on water in the Spokane, Washington-Coeur d'Alene, Idaho Corridor. The framework is grounded in collaboration between scientists and the local communities in the area. The principal goal of the award will be to accomplish an improved understanding of linkages between human dimensions and water resources as a coupled human-natural system. This will be based on accessing and assessing existing data and models, and adding essential new social science data to refine, integrate, and optimize established models. Optimization models will develop scenarios that can be evaluated and adopted by policy and decision makers in the communities of the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene Corridor. A systems approach will be used in this project to address the complex intersection of water resources and human activity including climate dynamics, water quantity/quality, landscape dynamics, distributed and renewable energy, social/economic factors, cultural and demographic change, natural resource law, built environment/engineering infrastructure, transportation planning/policies, urban-wildland/agriculture interface, and new threats from changing environments (e.g., wildfire impacts, invasive species). The work that will be accomplished will be performed by researchers from the University of Idaho and Washington State University and the state, federal, city, county and tribal institutions that acquire data and are responsible for the management of their resources and communities.
The award will build an education and engagement program that involves partners and core stakeholders in the collaborative effort. Broader impacts will occur in three ways: (1) holding of public fora that advance discovery and understanding, (2) providing broad dissemination of planning efforts and products to stakeholders throughout the study area and in other communities in the region, and (3) transferring direct benefits to society through the exploration of policy options with decision-makers. The project will partner with education programs to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and sustainability products for K-12 programming and teacher training. Partnerships with the tribes will focus on integrating underrepresented groups into the research and will engage indigenous and non-indigenous graduate students in development of stakeholder workshops and education programs. The program will build partnerships with the Coeur d'Alene, Spokane, and Colville Tribes and engage Native American graduate students in the processes. Owing to their rich culture and history these tribes are essential partners in the research and outreach of the research program.