Research Projects 2018-2020

Economic activity, technological progress, and water resource utilization on Oʻahu

Co-INVESTIGATOR: Kimberly Burnett
Graduate Trainee: Sisi Zhang

A cement-sided channel of water runs through fields, with Waianae Mountains in the distance.
Historical photo of a sugar plantation irrigation ditch.

Water management authorities on Oʻahu are increasingly looking for improved methods to plan for future water demand. Our proposed project will provide an innovative way to identify the dependency of specific segments of the economy (especially tourism, health care, food, and agriculture) on the state’s limited water resources, estimate efficiency improvements, and forecast future water demand. We will develop summary measures of economic conditions in various industries and subsequently relate economic fluctuations to resource use. Our work will focus on 1) estimating the relationship between economic activity and water use, and 2) predicting water demand in individual sectors of the local economy under various scenarios of economic, technological, and population change. In conjunction with data on the availability of water resources, our results will provide the means to evaluate the impact of these scenarios on Oʻahu’s water resources. Our results will also help to address questions such as to what extent implementing alternative water sources and water pricing reform are important components of sustainable coastal development going forward.