5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Galen Treuer
Session Name Poster Session - Policy & Behavior Change
Poster Number 35
Author(s) Galen Treuer,  University of Miami (Presenting Author)
  Aaron Deslatte,  Northern Illinois University
  Kim Manago, Colorado School of Mines
  Margaret Garcia, Tufts University
  Elizabeth Koebele, University of Colorado Boulder
  Narrative analysis of urban water transitions: A transdisciplinary synthesis of Miami-Dade County water supply
  Additional author: Kathleen Ernst, University of Tennessee, kassie.ernst@utk.edu Over the past twenty years, numerous American cities have decreased per capita water demand and increased flexibility in their urban water distribution and management structures. Determining the conditions that enable urban areas to transition to more sustainable water governance regimes can help increase resilience as city water systems face stressors such as rapid population growth, economic volatility, and a warming climate. Extant research partially explains these complex transitions through highly contextual case studies of individual cities. In this research, we propose a standardized technique to compare transitions towards sustainable water governance across communities using a transdisciplinary synthesis of hydrologic, institutional, interview, and media data to create structured, data driven narratives. These narratives represent the complexity of such transitions while simultaneously making them accessible to both researchers and practitioners. This narrative analysis is piloted through application to Miami-Dade County’s Water and Sewer Department (WASD), which has decreased per capita water demand since 2006. To create the narrative, we populate a twenty-year timeline using local expert interviews, Water Supply Stress Index (WASSI) calculations, a drought index, institutional analysis of water ordinances, municipal charter and state constitutional rules, media analysis of the Miami Herald, and longitudinal data from the department’s comprehensive annual financial reports. Next, a transition[KM1] [TG2] period is identified, and pre- and post-transition contexts are described for key actors. Timeline data is interrogated to identify potential drivers of and barriers to transition. For WASD, we find water supply stress (WASSI + drought index) is a leading indicator of the transition towards a sustainable water supply. Transition is further enabled by regulatory changes to the County consumptive use permit and permanent outdoor water use restrictions. To determine common conditions driving water supply transitions, Miami-Dade’s narrative can be compared to similarly structured narratives constructed for other cities.