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Center for Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas

Sub Type:
Research Areas:
NSF Award:

Sustainability of Water Resources in Semi-Arid Regions  (University of Arizona)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

The Center for Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA) furnishes new knowledge to elected officials, water managers, and policy experts to augment their ability to improve the sustainability of water resources in the United States and around the world. Two river basins – the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo river basin and Arizona’s Upper San Pedro river basin – are the primary geographic focus of center researchers.

Center scientists are working to understand the impacts of human population centers and agricultural activities, as well as emerging issues such as water markets and water banking. The team has developed a model for a water-trading market by coupling a hydrological model that forecasts total water availability in a given year with an economic model that forecasts total water demand by the various users. The model supports an open-market trading system, in which buyers and sellers declare bids and offers and make trades.

Education & Outreach

In addition to conducting cutting-edge research, SAHRA works to initiate, sustain, and engage dialog between stakeholders and scientists to stimulate and direct stakeholder-relevant research, by building confidence and mutual trust. SAHRA also plans, develops, and implements tools such as models, management guidelines, and policy frameworks, in support of stakeholder decision making. In addition to these tools, SAHRA disseminates knowledge to the community of water professionals, elected officials, and scientists, to help them make more scientifically informed decisions on water policy and management.

Outside the policy community, SAHRA disseminates knowledge about water and water-related issues so as to enhance public literacy regarding hydrology, leading to more scientifically informed choices by the public. This includes resources for teachers, a summer camp, an interactive Discovering Hydrology at Sabino Canyon display available both online and at the Sabino Canyon Visitors Center, and more. SAHRA is producing a new and diverse generation of professionals, students, and faculty adept at approaching water issues from a multidisciplinary and basin-scale perspective able to communicate their knowledge to others.

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  • students measure water evaporation
Students measure water evaporation in Patagonia, AZ
Jonathan Petti, SAHRA, University of Arizona, Tucson