Developing a National Capability for Integrated Water Resource Management

March 22, 2024

Dr. Leila Farhadi

For the U.S. to overcome its priority water challenges, extensive coordination is required among countless federal and state agencies. In 2019, an interagency workshop was hosted to bring U.S. Federal and non-federal scientists and managers together to develop a vision of Integrated Hydro-Terrestrial Modeling (IHTM). IHTM combines the expertise and data from multiple research organizations to model the complex terrestrial environment, featuring not only Earth’s natural biological systems in these models but also human land use decisions to inform both agency operations and scenario-building. 

In her research, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering Leila Farhadi works to understand and model land surface and land-atmosphere interaction and exchange processes by utilizing innovation optimization and numerical modeling techniques. Farhadi was nominated by members of an interagency planning team, which included program managers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation, to attend the second IHTM workshop held from October 31 to November 2, 2023, due to her expertise in hydrology and hydrometeorology modeling. 

IHTM 2.0 was an intensive workshop aimed at advancing community modeling and integrated water resource management capabilities using “Open Science by Design” principles as laid out in a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report is intended to provide the research enterprise and its stakeholders with guidance as they build strategies for achieving open science. Starting with keynote presentations, vision statements, and charge questions, participants of IHTM 2.0 strategized next steps the U.S. can take in implementing open science practices across agencies at all levels. 

“The purpose of the workshop was to move beyond the conceptual underpinnings of IHTM 1.0 to pursue strategic advances in use-inspired basic research and to accelerate translational science,” Farhadi stated.

Interagency coordination for water management is difficult for many reasons including a need for standardized models. Thus, the adoption of open science principles is critical to developing a powerful national IHTM capability because it would allow data and models to be shared across the IHTM community. Overall, participants aided in the advancement of state-of-the-art modeling approaches in collaborative efforts focused on national and regional scales. By lending her expertise at IHTM 2.0, Farhadi is supporting the vision of a national capability for integrated water resource management to overcome existing water challenges in the U.S.