State of the art for genetic algorithms and beyond in water resources planning and management

John Nicklow, Patrick Reed, Dragan Savic, Tibebe Dessalegne, Laura Harrell, Amy Chan-Hilton, Mohammad Karamouz, Barbara Minsker, Avi Ostfeld, Abhishek Singh, Emily Zechman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the last two decades, the water resources planning and management profession has seen a dramatic increase in the development and application of various types of evolutionary algorithms (EAs). This observation is especially true for application of genetic algorithms, arguably the most popular of the several types of EAs. Generally speaking, EAs repeatedly prove to be flexible and powerful tools in solving an array of complex water resources problems. This paper provides a comprehensive review of state-of-the-art methods and their applications in the field of water resources planning and management. A primary goal in this ASCE Task Committee effort is to identify in an organized fashion some of the seminal contributions of EAs in the areas of water distribution systems, urban drainage and sewer systems, water supply and wastewater treatment, hydrologic and fluvial modeling, groundwater systems, and parameter identification. The paper also identifies major challenges and opportunities for the future, including a call to address larger-scale problems that are wrought with uncertainty and an expanded need for cross fertilization and collaboration among our field's subdisciplines. Evolutionary computation will continue to evolve in the future as we encounter increased problem complexities and uncertainty and as the societal pressure for more innovative and efficient solutions rises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021003QWR
Pages (from-to)412-432
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Water Resources Planning and Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Evolutionary algorithm
  • Evolutionary computation
  • Genetic algorithm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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