Agricultural water use competes with urban-area residential and commercial water requirements for an increasingly limited resource. This tension must be resolved because all three uses are essential for our survival.

Drought, famine, poverty, terrorism, disease, conflict, social unrest and overall state failure are just a few of the challenges we must overcome as resources become scarce in the resource strained regions of the world. These threats can be mitigated through the consistent and sustainable delivery of resources, including fresh water, sustainable energy (fossil fuel, solar, geothermal, wind) and food; just a few of the critical components that make up the foundations for stable and secure, social, economic and political systems around the world. Maintaining resource availability on a local, regional and global scale is vital to the design of a peaceful future.

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are addressing these issues in various combinations in applied science and research projects around the United States and the world, including the Aral Sea Basin, Tigris-Euphrates Basin, Libya, the Rio Grande Basin, Willamette Basin, and other regions. These projects are aimed at managing the interdependent development of water, energy and food systems within sustainable ecological boundaries.

As the Earth's climate changes, deserts are encroaching further and further on established human habitation.

As the Earth’s climate changes, deserts are encroaching further and further on established human habitation.

Knowledge and data on water, energy, food and ecological systems are multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary. Collaboration with many experts across many fields is crucial for a full systems understanding of interactions, interdependencies, feedbacks, and long term consequences of remediation or management approaches. Collaboration enables transparency and cross-disciplinary dialogue. Stakeholder-driven projects give ownership to, and enable buy-in from, the stakeholders. Management actions emerge from the bottom up.