The Water and Electric Utility Tournament

On October 16 and 17, 2014 the World’s first Water and Electric Utility Integrated Planning Tournament was held in Denver Colorado. Approximately 32 people from the United States, Canada, and Australia and representing water and electric utilities, water and energy sector professionals, federal and state regulators, and academic institutions took part in a simulated planning tournament in order to identify opportunities and barriers to water and electric utility integrated planning.

The tournament was held as part of project 4469: Water and Electric Utility Planning led by me and my co-principal investigator, Steven Kenway at the University of Queensland. This project originated from the realization that water and electric utilities plan separately, yet share the same water resource; a resource which is increasingly scarce. New water supplies require more energy. Increased energy supplies require more water. This is just one example of the positive feedback cycle existing with regard to water and energy management, there are many more. This creates a massive challenge. It also creates the opportunity for a high level evaluation of innovative solutions of which planning needs to be at the forefront. There are appreciable opportunities for water / electric integrated planning and this gives cause for further investigation.

But how can water and electric utilities work together to manage scarce resources?

One approach for fostering water and electric utility integrated is The Water and Electric Utility Integrated Planning Tournament. The Water and Electric Utility Integrated Planning Tournament is a concept based on the Invitational Drought Tournament developed at the Science and Technology Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Using simulation gaming, a tournament helps actors discuss opportunities for future planning efforts.

Image Left: Team 4 deliberating planning options

In the Water and Electric Utility Integrated Planning Tournament, multiple water and electric power sector actors form teams consisting of approximately five players. The teams are guided through two integrated planning scenarios set in a fictitious city and region. The scenario includes information about the city and its biophysical, political, and social environment (e.g. demographics, temperature, precipitation, water and energy demand projections). Teams are provided a technical memo and guided through each scenario round. Teams work together to develop an integrated water and electric utility plan consisting of several planning alternatives. Teams score each other based on their integrated plan’s abilities to meet the goals of the scenario, minimize economic impact and maximize system resiliency in both the short and long term. The team with the highest score at the end of the second scenario wins the tournament. To read more about the tournament see the  summary report linked below.


The 2014 Denver tournament was sponsored by the Water Research Foundation, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and American Water Works Association.


Summary Report: