An agent-based hydroeconomic model to evaluate water policies in Jordan

Monday, 15 December 2014
Jim Yoon, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States and Steven Gorelick, Stanford University, Los Altos Hills, CA, United States
Modern water systems can be characterized by a complex network of institutional and private actors that represent competing sectors and interests. Identifying solutions to enhance water security in such systems calls for analysis that can adequately account for this level of complexity and interaction. Our work focuses on the development of a hierarchical, multi-agent, hydroeconomic model that attempts to realistically represent complex interactions between hydrologic and multi-faceted human systems. The model is applied to Jordan, one of the most water-poor countries in the world. In recent years, the water crisis in Jordan has escalated due to an ongoing drought and influx of refugees from regional conflicts. We adopt a modular approach in which biophysical modules simulate natural and engineering phenomena, and human modules represent behavior at multiple scales of decision making. The human modules employ agent-based modeling, in which agents act as autonomous decision makers at the transboundary, state, organizational, and user levels. A systematic nomenclature and conceptual framework is used to characterize model agents and modules. Concepts from the Unified Modeling Language (UML) are adopted to promote clear conceptualization of model classes and process sequencing, establishing a foundation for full deployment of the integrated model in a scalable object-oriented programming environment. Although the framework is applied to the Jordanian water context, it is generalizable to other regional human-natural freshwater supply systems.