DiFrancesco, Kara N. and Desiree D. Tullos, 2014. Flexibility in Water Resources Management: Review of Concepts and Development of Assessment Measures for Flood Management Systems. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 1-13. DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12214
Discussions around adapting water management systems to climate change often express the need to increase system flexibility. Yet despite the frequent use of the term flexibility, very little work has examined what exactly it means to have a flexible water management system, what features of a system make it more flexible than another system, or when the costs to implement flexible options outweigh the benefits gained from increased flexibility. To define and operationalize the concept of flexibility in the field of water resources management, this article reviews and analyzes concepts of flexibility from the fields of information technology, manufacturing, management, and adaptive social-ecological systems. We identify five characteristics of flexible water resources systems, namely: slack, redundancy, connectivity, compatibility/coordination, and adjustability. We then operationalize the assessment of flexibility for flood management systems by proposing original flexibility metrics and discussing their application. We conclude with a discussion on the tradeoffs of increasing flexibility.
I've known Kara since her undergraduate days at The University of Virginia. Did someone say 'smart'? Yes!
Here is an abstract of her dissertation (which formed the basis for the JAWRA paper): Development and Application of Climate Risk Assessment Methods for Flood Management Systems – A Study of Flexibility, Adaptive Capacity, and Robustness:
You can access a PDF of her dissertation here.
"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it." - Chinese proverb