A Decision Support System for Water Resources Planning and Management for the North Slope of Alaska
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Alaska's North Slope hosts a phenomenal wealth of natural, cultural, and economic resources. It represents a complex system, not only in terms of the biophysical system and its global importance but also from the standpoint of its social dynamic. A major challenge at the forefront of domestic energy development on the North Slope is the need for best management practices that will ensure benefits for all stakeholders. To do so requires stakeholder cooperation that enables cost-effective development strategies that fit within a broader context of long term cultural, economic, and environmental sustainability. Ice roads and ice pads provide a cost-effective means of oil and gas exploration with minimal impact to the sensitive underlying tundra. Consequently, these ice structures have become integral to oil and gas exploration activities on the North Slope. Their widespread use represents a challenge to water resource managers, however, due to the large volume of water required to construct and maintain them. Crucial questions on water balance and ecosystem impact must be considered in the state regulatory process that permits construction of these ice structures. The North Slope Decision Support System (DSS) is currently under development as a technology in support of oil and gas exploration and development that explicitly considers optimal water use, direct and cumulative environmental impacts, and multiple objectives and values among stakeholders. Major modules of the DSS include information systems, natural system models, planning and management functions, and regulation workflow. Development of the DSS is a collaborative effort of academic and industry personnel with significant stakeholder involvement from multiple agencies of local, state, and federal government, private energy companies, and non-governmental organizations. © 2009 ASCE.
author list (cited authors)
Tidwell, A. C., Brumbelow, K., Bourne, S. F., & Schnabel, W. E.