Metrics for wise water management earns award for ASU doctoral student

July 30, 2012

Arizona State University engineering doctoral student Elizabeth Martin is a winner of a Central Arizona Project  (CAP) 2012 Award for Water Research.

The award recognizes excellence in graduate or undergraduate research in areas related to water challenges facing Arizona, California and Nevada. CAP is the steward of the largest resource of renewable water supplies in Arizona. Martin water research Download Full Image

Martin is pursuing her doctorate in civil engineering through the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, a part of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Her second-place award from CAP was based on her research paper “Value Intensity of Water Used for Electrical Generation in the Western U.S.; An Application of Embedded Resource Accounting.”

Martin is doing the research under the direction of assistant engineering professor Benjamin Ruddell, who is her doctoral studies faculty adviser. The winning paper describes Martin’s examination of the water challenges likely to increase with the expected impacts of climate change and growing demand for water.

Available water supplies will be affected by increasing temperatures and evaporation, decreased rainfall, and more intense droughts in the Southwest. At the same time, as population and industry continue to grow, resource demands will increase and become more concentrated around urban areas – particularly demands for electrical energy.

Water resources are critical for electrical energy production. In the United States, a larger percentage of water is withdrawn from supply sources for electrical energy production than for any other single purpose.

Climate change coupled with growing demand for resources means that “reallocation of water supplies, in addition to the redistribution of the production of electrical energy and other resources, will be necessary to adapt reduced supplies to meet changing resource demands,” Martin says.

Her research explores the “water-energy nexus” in terms of water-for-energy – or the amount of water “embedded” in electricity – meaning the water consumed in the process of generating electricity.

“We combine this information with retail prices paid for electricity, and evaluate it over the electricity trade network within the western United States,” Martin explains.

The results are a network of resource flows (flows of electricity, currency, and embedded water) across the region.  This allows for determination of a “value intensity” of the water embedded in electricity.

“Value intensity is not a price of the embedded water, but a metric we can use to identify patterns in changes of value intensity of embedded water resulting from electricity trade on the power grid,” she says.

These patterns of change in the value intensity, caused by the trade in electricity, provide useful information.

The results of this analysis show that “an implicit trade in embedded water appears to exist in the western United States, and that this trade appears to benefit both importing and exporting states because exporters increase and importers decrease the value intensity of water embedded in traded electricity,” Martin says

This information, and the methodology used to obtain it, can be used to help managers of water and energy systems adapt to changing climate conditions and growing demand.

Her analytic methods can also help establish value intensities of resources other than water, and can be applied to small-scale or large-scale resource systems.

Her CAP award includes a $500 prize and the opportunity to present her research at the Arizona Hydrological Society Annual Symposium in September, where she will be formally presented the award.

Martin's paper will be published in the conferences proceedings journal and on the CAP website.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


Arizona State Olympic recap: opening weekend

July 30, 2012

It didn’t take long for the performances to start rolling in for the Sun Devils as the opening weekend of competition at the 2012 Olympic Games in London saw numerous Arizona State University alumni in action.

SOCCER Download Full Image

The Olympic action actually got going a couple days before the Olympic ceremonies with women’s soccer.  The U.S. women and defender and ASU alumnus Amy LePeilbet have cruised through their first two rounds of pool play, overcoming an early 2-0 deficit against France to win 4-2 in the opening before shutting out the Columbians, 3-0, on Saturday.


Arizona State University is represented by three men and three different countries in these Olympic Games, tied for the most of any other school in the nation. 

Former Pac-10 Player of the Year Ike Diogu led the Nigerian national team to its first-ever Olympic victory in its first-ever appearance, scoring 13 point and 10 rebounds as the Nigerians downed Tunisia, 60-56.  

Another Pac-10 Player of the Year, James Harden, was part of a 98-71 route for the United States men’s team over France.  Harden have five points and one assist in just over 14 minutes for the American men.  

It was a tough day for Eric Boateng and the national team from Great Britain as the team fell, 95-75, to Russia while Boateng was held scoreless with just one rebound.  


Former ASU swimmer Gal Nevo got things going in the pool with a 10th-place finish in the men’s 400m IM.  Nevo was third in his heat in the qualifying rounds in 4:14.77 and was just over a second shy of advancing to the finals in the event for Israel.  

It was, however, the top finish for an ASU alumni in that particular event since Sweden’s Anders Peterson took ninth at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.  Nevo is the Israeli national record holder in the event and will still compete in the 200m individual medley later in these Olympics.


The pool was also an active place for past, present and future Sun Devils on Monday, July 30 as the opening rounds of pool play in the women’s water polo competition saw plenty of ASU action. 

Former Sun Devil Rowie Webster scored a goal for the Australian national team in the squad’s 10-8 victory over Italy.  Webster, known more for her defensive prowess, broke a 4-4 tie early in the second half that broke the game open for the Stingers as they would go on to open up a 8-4 lead and never looked back.

Incoming freshman Rita Keszthelyi was part of a thriller in the opening round as the Hungarian squad took the gold medal favorites from the USA to the limit in a 14-13 shootout that saw the Hungarians come just shy of the upset.  Keszthelyi, who is slated to compete as a freshman for the Sun Devils in 2013, had three assists in the match.

It was a tough day in the pool for the Chinese national team and current Sun Devil Gao Ao.  Gao was held scoreless and assistless as the squad fell to the Italian national team, 11-6.


It was a tough couple days for Alison Williamson, competing in her sixth consecutive Olympic games in archery.  The former Sun Devil All-American was 47th with a score of 310 in the rankings rounds and will now look to improve that standing in the elimination rounds beginning tomorrow. The Great British squad would then go on to get knocked out in the first round of team competition, falling 215-208 to Russia. 

For a complete schedule of Sun Devils at the Olympics, click here.