Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-535
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-535

  10 Nov 2021

10 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Coupled effects of observation and parameter uncertainty on urban groundwater infrastructure decisions

Marina R. L. Mautner1,2, Laura Foglia1, and Jonathan D. Herman2 Marina R. L. Mautner et al.
  • 1Department of Land Air and Water Resources, University of California Davis, Davis, CA, USA
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California Davis, Davis, CA, USA

Abstract. Urban groundwater management requires complex environmental models to represent interactions between hydrogeological processes and infrastructure systems. While the impacts of external uncertainties have been widely studied, there is limited understanding of how decision support is altered by endogenous uncertainties arising from model parameters and observations used for calibration. This study investigates (1) the importance of observation choice and parameter values on aquifer management objectives when controlling for model error, and (2) how the relative performance of management alternatives varies when exposed to endogenous uncertainties, individually and in combination. We use a spatially distributed groundwater model of the Valley of Mexico, where aquifer management alternatives include demand management, targeted infiltration, and wastewater reuse. The effects of uncertainty are evaluated using global sensitivity analysis, performance ranking of alternatives under a range of human-natural parameters, and identification of behavioral parameter sets filtered with an error metric calculated from varying subsets of observations. Results show that the parameters governing hydraulic conductivity and total water use in the basin have the greatest effect on management objectives. Model errors are not necessarily controlled by the same parameters as the objectives needed for decision-making. Additionally, observational and parameter uncertainty each play a larger role in objective variation than the management alternatives themselves. Finally, coupled endogenous uncertainties have amplifying effects on decision-making, leading to larger variations in the ranking of management alternatives than each on their own. This study highlights how the uncertain parameters of a physically-based model and their interactions with uncertain observations can affect water supply planning decisions in densely populated urban areas.

Marina R. L. Mautner et al.

Status: open (until 05 Jan 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Marina R. L. Mautner et al.

Marina R. L. Mautner et al.

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Short summary
Sensitivity analysis can be harnessed to evaluate effects of model uncertainties on planning outcomes. This study explores how observation and parameter uncertainty propagate through a hydrogeologic model to influence the ranking of decision alternatives. Using global sensitivity analysis and evaluation of aquifer management objectives, we evaluate how physical properties of the model and choice of observations for calibration can lead to variations in decision-relevant model outputs.