Standardized Measures for Assessing Sustainability

Sowmithra M -

Hi everyone! Last week, I left off on going in person to meet Dr. Garcia. In that meeting, Dr. Garcia explained different parts of her project and the variables they use. She shared that standardized measures are important for empirical analysis. Keeping that in mind, we discussed the Vanderbilt Water Conservation Index, Treuer et. al’s expanded view of triple exposure theory, how her team defines a ‘transition towards sustainability,’ and much more. We then went over a few problems I was facing on RStudio. I learned many things, but I especially came face to face with the fact that even the smallest thing such as using the wrong asterisk can mess up the code. After that, Dr. Garcia gave me the task of plotting a few graphs based on data she provided. This is where I faced my biggest challenge: pinpointing source file locations and importing data into RStudio. Turns out, when saving the data file, it saved as an excel. I had to export it again as a .csv because that’s what allows RStudio to read the data. CSV stands for comma separated variables, and basically is a very simplified way of keeping separate records of tabular data. After doing so, I was still having trouble getting RStudio to read the data. After searching on the internet, I realized I had to set the working directory to source file location, meaning where I’m pulling data from and saving script all had to be in the same place. Even being in the wrong sub folder messed things up. In order to work, it should look like this:


Fast forwarding to this week, I’ve set a few goals. I’m further exploring RStudio’s plotting capabilities and particularly focusing on ggplot and qplot, which are just ways to make graphs and such. I’m also continuing readings on the topic of sustainable urban water management and transitions to sustainable water infrastructure systems. Additionally, I’m trying to find in person and virtual meetings on public water utilities for the three cities. So far, for Phoenix, I have found a few through the following organizations: Central Arizona Project and Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona. I hope to attend these meetings to see what perspectives are being raised and summarize what they focus on. Today, I will be attending an in person ASU seminar with graduate students and other professors. I’m a bit nervous about what I could say in a room full of such intelligent people, but I’m looking forward to learning from them. As for the rest of my week, I will be continuing to look for virtual meetings for Miami and Detroit’s water systems and meet with the CNH2 project team on Friday. Thanks for reading!

More Posts


All viewpoints are welcome but profane, threatening, disrespectful, or harassing comments will not be tolerated and are subject to moderation up to, and including, full deletion.

    Moksha Dalal
    Hi Sowmithra! I think attending these seminars at ASU is very commendable, you will do great! I'm curious to know what exactly the Central Arizona Project and Water Infrastructure Finance Authroity of Arizona do?
    Hi Sowmithra! It sounds like you are doing great work and really expanding your knowledge. I'd love to hear more about what Dr. Garcia's team defines as a transition to sustainability.
    Alana Rothschild
    It is so impressive that you are learning a coding language while doing everything else; that is a feat in itself! I am excited to learn more over the coming weeks. Great job!
    Hi Ms. Bennett! Dr. Garcia's team defines a 'transition to sustainability' as significant and durable changes to the existing management regime that increase water system sustainability and if there are fundamental shifts across multiple domains. You can read more about it here:
    Thank you Ms. Rothschild!
    Hi Moksha! The Central Arizona Project works in several ways and with multiple parties to deliver Colorado River into central and southern Arizona. The Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona financially assists and provides low interest loans for industries and other parties to construct and improve drinking water systems, wastewater treatment, and water reclamation systems. I hope that answers your question!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *