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An interdisciplinary team from Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, School of Community Resources and Development and School of Sustainability are collaborating to create a set of tools to help decision makers sustainably address the future of food, energy and water system policy in the Phoenix metropolitan area and beyond. From left to right: Giuseppe Mascaro, Dave White, Hessam Sarjoughian, Rimjhim Aggarwal and Ross Maciejewski.

An interdisciplinary team from Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, School of Community Resources and Development and School of Sustainability are collaborating to create a set of tools to help decision makers sustainably address the future of food, energy and water system policy in the Phoenix metropolitan area and beyond. Photographer: Pete Zrioka/ASU

Here in the desert, water is a big concern. For the average person living in the Phoenix metropolitan area, the prospect of future water shortages makes us think about fixing that dripping faucet, buying high-efficiency washing machines and xeriscaping our green lawns — things we can do as individuals to conserve water.

But to really understand our future as desert dwellers and create the appropriate policies for future generations, it’s necessary to look how water affects and is affected by other crucial resources we depend on: food and energy.

Five Arizona State University faculty members from a range of disciplines recently received a five-year, $3 million National Science Foundation award. As part of the NSF’s Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) program, the team conducts research to build decision support tools that look at the interdependence of these systems and help develop sustainable policies for the future.

Historically, policies for agriculture, energy and water have been made in isolation of one another. In reality, these systems are all interconnected. This interplay is called the food-energy-water nexus.

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