Objectives + Specific Aims

The long-term objective of the Net Zero Urban Water Group is to improve water utilization toward a net zero urban water (NZUW) future – one that meets all municipal demands using only locally sustainable supplies.  To that end, our team works to assess and develop adaptive design and operational strategies that cross multiple temporal and spatial scales to address long-term forcing factors including climate, population growth, infrastructural aging, and regulatory changes in view of challenges linked to water (e.g., energy, policy, societal and ecological needs).  Our over-arching hypothesis is that integrated transdisciplinary planning and management across the natural, built, and social environments is required to identify adaptive strategies (infrastructures and policies) that can sustain regional water resources. Of six specific aims (SA), the first two are large-scale unifying efforts that integrate our research activities.  

SA1.   Integrated NZUW modeling:  To conduct holistic system assessments, develop a comprehensive urban water model that includes surface and ground water, distribution and conveyance, water/wastewater treatment and reuse, building design, and demand management strategies.

SA2.   Adaptive design for integrated water infrastructure and management:   Develop a planning and design framework identifying technologies and their placements to address system disruptions including changing climate, population shifts, and emerging technologies.  The framework will evaluate trade-offs among improved water-use efficiency, reduced energy consumption, risk mitigation, and maximization of societal and ecosystem benefits.

SA3.   Building design and performance: Develop innovative building redesign techniques that improve water and energy efficiencies.

SA4.   Decentralized treatment: Evaluate decentralized treatment options with respect to design and planning performance metrics.

SA5.   Societal and Ecosystem impacts/benefits: Develop quantifiable metrics for assessing the societal and ecological benefits that arise from re-designing for NZUW.

SA6.   Policy and institutions:  Distill lessons learned from case studies associated with integrating decision making around NZUW systems.

Coordinating Committee


Dominic Boccelli

Associate Professor/Department Head (Civil & Architectural Engineering & Mechanics, College of Engineering)

Pertinent Expertise: Systems analysis, optimization under uncertainty, and stochastic methods  Research Focus: drinking water distribution systems including real-time modeling and decision support, sensor-based contaminant warning systems, and water quality modeling.


Courtney Crosson

Assistant Professor (School of Architecture, College of Architecture, Planning, & Landscape Architecture)

Pertinent Expertise and Research: Multi-scalar and multi-objective optimization models of NZUW systems; NZUW regulatory challenges; community engagement; urban, landscape, and building design and performance.


Jennifer Duan

Professor (Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences / Civil & Architectural Engineering & Mechanics / BioSystems, College of Engineering)

Pertinent Expertise and Research:  Computational hydraulic modelling and simulation across urban scales.


Kevin Lansey

Professor (Civil & Architectural Engineering & Mechanics, College of Engineering) 

Pertinent Expertise: Water resources systems analysis including resilience, uncertainty analysis and optimization
Pertinent Research: Developed modeling and optimization tools of decentralized water reuse systems for the City and County, water distribution, managed groundwater recharge facilities, regional pump system planning for integrated food-energy-water systems.


Tom Meixner

Professor/Associate Department Head (Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences, College of Science)

Pertinent Expertise and Research: Coupling of hydrologic and biogeochemical processes; integrated effect of green stormwater infrastructure to improve water quality, increase vegetation and decrease flood hazards in urban environments.


Christopher Scott

Director of the Udall Center/Professor and Distinguished Scholar (School of Geography and Development, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences)

Pertinent Expertise and Research: Water policy, urban food-energy-water nexus, and community/stakeholder engagement in Arizona and the Southwest, US-Mexico borderlands and globally.