Collaborative Research project

Spatial Prioritization of Freshwater Natural Infrastructure

Project Information

Natural infrastructure (NI) uses natural processes to support traditional objectives of built infrastructure such as storm water management and securing water supplies for human use. This project aims to accelerate the transition from ad hoc implementation of freshwater NI in the landscape by building spatially explicit NI prioritization tools that will allow stakeholders and decision-makers to explore strategic locations to implement freshwater NI solutions that meet multiple objectives for people and the environment.


This project will develop systematic approaches to spatial prioritization of NI, through both a broad assessment of current tools and prospective end-user experience, as well as a focused case study of the identification of priority levee setback sites in the Missouri River. The spatial prioritization methods developed through this project will help engineers and planners to collaborate with decision-makers to strategically select locations and types of NI interventions to maximize multiple benefits.


The spatial prioritization tools for freshwater NI will be built using two simultaneous approaches. Working closely with USACE partners in the Omaha District, a pilot tool will be built to assess site selection for levee setbacks in the Missouri River, allowing the team to wrangle with details of a specific application. Simultaneously, surveys and interviews with stakeholders and decision-makers across multiple scales of governance will help the team adapt the tools to multiple decision contexts and increase the potential for it to contribute to real world decision-making.


Point of Contact

Associate Dean for Research and Professor, UGA


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