Coupled Modeling to Support Evaluation of Mission-Assurance Risk from Disruption of Water Infrastructure

Noah Garfinkle | USACE ERDC-CERL



The objective of this project is to demonstrate and validate the incorporation of existing engineering datasets of installation water infrastructure into coupled models, to produce robust quantitative assessments of installation water resilience. Such models will better inform planning and investments for resilience, support crisis mitigation, and improve policy compliance. While many Department of Defense (DoD) installations already make substantial investments to employ hydraulic modeling and create detailed geospatial datasets, the cost and technical complexity of these models mean they are rarely incorporated into rigorous engineering-level analyses of infrastructure resilience. Although coupled models are increasingly utilized by private utilities, a lack of technical capacity within the DoD, a shortage of guidance, and insufficient documentation of success within the DoD have been impediments to increased adoption of coupled modeling by installations.

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Technology Description

Every critical mission on DoD installations is impacted by the resilience, quality, and quantity of water supply. Altogether, the DoD consumes in excess of 80 billion gallons of potable water per year (United States Department of Defense, 2019), serving human needs, powering industrial processes, cooling essential equipment, and providing fire suppression capacity. Existing assessments of mission-assurance risk from disruptions of water infrastructure tend to rely primarily upon subjective and qualitative methodologies, neglecting detailed engineering analyses. While datasets supporting more detailed analyses are often already available, the expense and technical complexity of constructing and utilizing engineering models often discourages installations from pursuing network and physics-based approaches.

Coupled modeling describes a tiered approach to applying the best-available “right” data, to the right problem, and with the right technical and algorithmic support to solve the water resilience problems important to all DoD installations. Existing water resilience models often rely on gross accounting of supply versus demand, or coarse graphical models that neglect the physical requirements for conveying water at adequate quantity, pressure, and quality to the point of need. By employing existing hydraulic models thoroughly coupled with DoD geospatial and asset datasets, the DoD has a unique opportunity to take the best-available modeling capacity of the private sector and combine it with the best-available mission-assurance workflows of the Enterprise. Such an approach will help to transform already-sunk costs in model development into scalable and replicable approaches which help installations minimize costs, helping installations minimize costs and decrease disruptions of their critical water supplies.

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Assuring the continuity of critical missions requires detailed approaches exceeding those already available to most DoD installations. While existing resilience models play important roles in managing risks and investments, the operating environment is increasingly considered to be one in which “In addition to deliberate and directed attacks from adversaries, Army installations exist within a natural environment increasingly characterized by the effects of climate change, extreme weather events, pandemics, and environmental degradation. Such conditions will require adaptation of existing infrastructure.” (Army Installations Strategy- Supporting the Army in Multiple Domains, December 2020) This study will demonstrate and validate one critical path to mitigating these threats: applying engineering models in resilience planning and investments for DoD installations. These existing data sources consist of sunk costs, and more effective employment of these models in decision-making is likely to recover more value than the cost of the models. (Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute, 2016)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Mr. Noah Garfinkle

United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory

Phone: 217-377-3711

Program Manager

Energy and Water