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Understanding institutions for water allocation and exchange: Insights from dynamic agent‐based modeling

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Abstract Water allocation occurs within systems that include market‐driven and nonmarket approaches; these are often nested within complex collections of laws, contracts, and customs, and embody cultural definitions of the nature of water as a commodity or a right and the nature of fair exchanges. Understanding the dynamics of such an allocation system, including the ways that it may change through time and the ways that it can be modified to better achieve societal goals, can be challenging. One promising approach is agent‐based modeling (ABM), and specifically models in which the agents dynamically adapt to the system that they create. The potential for such modeling in the domain of water systems is only beginning to be explored. We present a highly abstract but illustrative example of an adaptive system and its analysis to show the potential for the ABM approach. This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Planning Water Human Water > Rights to Water Engineering Water > Methods Human Water > Water Governance
Results of simulations runs showing small and mid‐size managers' strategies moving from initial starting points to final, stable states. Light blue trails leading to red final points represent mid‐size cities, which begin at multiple points and end with obtain values ~.85 and return values ~.55; dark blue trails leading to yellow endpoints represent small cities, which begin at varying points and end at ~.45 return, ~.65 obtain
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Final strategies for cities using realistic population sizes from the Phoenix metropolitan area. Cities array themselves in positions based on their population sizes, which are proxies for water demand
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Endpoints for all sizes of cities, including large, from the same set of runs as Figure 1. Large cities both obtain and return much larger proportions of any surplus or shortage
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Human Water > Water Governance
Engineering Water > Methods
Human Water > Rights to Water
Engineering Water > Planning Water

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