FEW Nexus

In order to plan infrastructure that is both resilient and sustainable, it is imperative to integrate the detailed representation of local hydrological and technological constraints with regional and global policies. In this study, we aim to identify the challenges at the food-energy-water nexus in the rural, low-income community of Culpeper County, located in Northern Virginia.

A set of different tools is adopted to identify such challenges, including satellite-based observations, in-situ data, and modeling techniques. First, hydrological risks linked to extreme weather events in the area are identified. Although the region has not been affected by severe droughts in the past 40 years, flooding was identified as a major concern in the town of Culpeper. Due to the ongoing urbanization, land cover change was also recognized as a crucial factor for monitoring and predicting stormwater quantity and quality. Moreover, irrigation runoff from crop fields may have a significant impact on local ecosystems and freshwater quality if fertilizers and pesticides are used.

In this study, we propose integrated solutions to address these challenges, by combining best management practice to control stormwater runoff (e.g., retention ponds), early flood warning systems, water quality monitoring stations, but also renewable energy sources (such as solar powered irrigation pumps). Such solutions provide alternatives for the Culpeper community that are not only low cost, but also sustainable.

This project was funded as one of the Mason Provost's 2020 Summer Team Impact Projects

Team: Dr. J. Sklarew (PI, Environmental Science & Policy), C. Gewa (co-I, Department Nutrition and Food Studies), V. Maggioni (co-I), Soelem Bhuiyan (Graduate Assistant), Stephanie Wilson (Graduate Assistant).