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Title: The Influential Role of Sociocultural Feedbacks on Community-Managed Irrigation System Behaviors During times of Water Stress

Sociohydrological studies use interdisciplinary approaches to explore the complex interactions between physical and social water systems and increase our understanding of emergent and paradoxical system behaviors. The dynamics of community values and social cohesion, however, have received little attention in modeling studies due to quantification challenges. Social structures associated with community-managed irrigation systems around the world, in particular, reflect these communities' experiences with a multitude of natural and social shocks. Using the Valdez acequia (a communally-managed irrigation community in northern New Mexico) as a simulation case study, we evaluate the impact of that community's social structure in governing its responses to water availability stresses posed by climate change. Specifically, a system dynamics model (developed using insights from community stakeholders and multiple disciplines that captures biophysical, socioeconomic, and sociocultural dynamics of acequia systems) was used to generate counterfactual trajectories to explore how the community would behave with streamflow conditions expected under climate change. We found that earlier peak flows, combined with adaptive measures of shifting crop selection, allowed for greater production of higher value crops and fewer people leaving the acequia. The economic benefits were lost, however, if downstream water pressures increased. Even with significant reductions in agricultural profitability, feedbacks associatedmore » with community cohesion buffered the community's population and land parcel sizes from more detrimental impacts, indicating the community's resilience under natural and social stresses. In conclusion, continued exploration of social structures is warranted to better understand these systems' responses to stress and identify possible leverage points for strengthening community resilience.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [1]
  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  2. Texas A & M Univ., Kingsville , TX (United States). Dept. of Agriculture, Agribusiness & Environmental Sciences
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0043-1397; 661435
Grant/Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000; NA0003525; CNH-1010516; WSC-1204685; DGE-0909667
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Water Resources Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Water Resources Research; Journal ID: ISSN 0043-1397
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Research Org:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation (NSF); USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
99 GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Sociocultural dynamics; climate change; community‐managed irrigation; interdisciplinary modeling; coupled natural and human systems
OSTI Identifier: