Dr. ir. David Gold

Universitair docent

Research focus: Quantitative modeling of human interactions with water resources systems

David Gold is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Geography at Utrecht University. David's research advances emerging tools such as high-performance computing, multiobjective optimization, and artificial intelligence to understand and improve decision-making in water resources contexts.  David's current research projects include exploring drought vulnerability in the Upper Colorado River Basin, developing adaptive strategies to aid urban water supply planning in the Southeastern United States, and exploring pathways for sustainable and equitable water supply infrastructure investment in the Federal District of Brazil.

Open P.h.D Project: Operationalizing equity in quantitative water resources modeling

Safe, clean, and accessible water supply is vital for human health and well-being. The United Nations highlights the importance of water supply in Sustainable Development Goal Six - “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all”. However, despite recent improvements, around two billion people globally lack access to safely managed drinking water. Moreover, climate change and rapidly growing urban populations threaten water supplies in many regions, with impacts projected to affect vulnerable and marginalized communities disproportionately. Traditional water resources systems models and decision support frameworks - built to help water managers evaluate and improve the resilience of water supply systems - struggle to operationalize equity outcomes within and across communities. Water resources systems models often treat regional systems homogeneously and miss critical social dimensions and power dynamics that dictate outcomes for vulnerable populations. Prioritizing equitable outcomes during decision-support processes is an additional challenge for water managers because performance metrics used to guide decision-making often overlook impacts on vulnerable populations. Using a case study in the Federal District of Brazil, a region with a history of drought and a legacy of inequitable historical development, this project will advance new research to operationalize equity considerations within quantitative water resources systems models.


Selected Publications

Gold, D. F., Reed, P. M., Gorelick, D. E., & Characklis, G. W. (2023). Advancing regional water supply management and infrastructure investment pathways that are equitable, robust, adaptive, and cooperatively stable. Water Resources Research, 59(9), e2022WR033671.

Gold, D. F., Reed, P. M., Gorelick, D. E., & Characklis, G. W. (2022). Power and pathways: Exploring robustness, cooperative stability, and power relationships in regional infrastructure investment and water supply management portfolio pathways. Earth's Future, 10(2), e2021EF002472.

Gold, D. F., Reed, P. M., Trindade, B. C., & Characklis, G. W. (2019). Identifying actionable compromises: Navigating multi-city robustness conflicts to discover cooperative safe operating spaces for regional water supply portfolios. Water Resources Research, 55(11), 9024-9050.

Trindade, B. C., Gold, D. F., Reed, P. M., Zeff, H. B., & Characklis, G. W. (2020). Water pathways: An open source stochastic simulation system for integrated water supply portfolio management and infrastructure investment planning. Environmental Modelling & Software, 132, 104772.

Hadjimichael, A., Gold, D., Hadka, D., & Reed, P. (2020). Rhodium: Python library for many-objective robust decision making and exploratory modeling. Journal of Open Research Software, 8.