Evaluating the potential of system dynamics modeling for improving public participation in water resource management

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

19th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society


System Dynamics Society


This paper discusses a study testing the potential of a system dynamics model to facilitate public participation in the Las Vegas water system serves one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the U.S., located in one of the country's most arid regions. Management challenges include communicating information about the dynamics of the interconnected urban and environmental system and enlisting public support to reach water conservation goals. In this study we developed a system dynamics model of the water system, scripted a workshop to present the model, and ran seven workshops for a total of 67 members of the Las Vegas community. Results of the workshop show that system dynamics models can provide a forum for analytic deliberation, in which scientific analysis are combined with structured discussion about values and objectives. Analysis of participant survey responses and facilitator observations shows the model improved group communication, technical knowledge and system insight, and promoted consensus among the participants. This paper presents the Las Vegas, Nevada water system case study, describes the workshop structure and content, and discusses findings from research workshops.


Group facilitation; Nevada – Las Vegas; Political participation; Sustainable urban development; Water conservation; Water resource management


Civic and Community Engagement | Environmental Policy | Environmental Sciences | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Water Resource Management




Conference held in Atlanta, GA from July 23- 27.


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