Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joni A. Downs, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Delcie Durham, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mahmood Nachabe, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca K. Zarger, Ph.D.


Geographic Information System (GIS), Water Balance Model, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Tampa


This dissertation addresses the impact of urbanization and land use change on the availability and accessibility of two urban amenities that are often inequitably distributed: green space and water features. Diverse methodologies were utilized in order to gain a better understanding of the role of these amenities in improving urban quality of life and integrated water management. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this research provides a unique perspective within both a developed and developing world context by evaluating aspects of urbanization to emphasize more sustainable and integrated approaches to development.

A preliminary analysis highlights potential drivers of green space revitalization in Santa Cruz, Bolivia by identifying perceived benefits of brownfields redevelopment projects between developed and developing countries. These include environmental benefits (creation of green space, reduced health risks), economic benefits (job creation, retention of residents and businesses), and social benefits (community enhancement, improved city services). Building on this analysis, an in-depth anthropological study then examines the preferences, perceptions, and barriers to accessing green spaces in Santa Cruz. Utilizing qualitative and quantifiable research methods, it was determined that although green spaces can help ensure greater equality in urban areas by providing access to public spaces, significant gender discrepancies were noted in Santa Cruz.

Disparities in the distribution and accessibility of green space and water features were further assessed in Tampa, Florida. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS) and census data, access to these urban amenities was examined. The inner-city community of East Tampa was found to have greater inequalities, relative to other areas in Tampa, in terms of the quality, diversity, and size of green spaces within their community. The revitalization of urban water infrastructures, such as stormwater ponds, was evaluated as a way to address these environmental justice issues.

Lastly, impacts of urbanization, land use change, and population growth on water resources were analyzed using a regional water balance model for the city of Santa Cruz. Development scenarios were examined based on historical and future spatial and temporal changes. Between 1970 and 2010, a decreasing trend was observed for the aridity index (potential evapotranspiration over precipitation) while future climate projections (2011-2050) indicate a trend reversal, with the IPCC's emission scenario A1B having the strongest increasing trend. The increasing trend in the aridity index suggests a long-term shift in the regional hydroclimatology towards less humid conditions.

Each chapter of this research builds on the idea of green space as an indicator of urban quality of life (particularly for urban poor who rely more heavily on public spaces for leisure and recreation activities) as well as an important facilitator of urban hydrology due to their predominately permeable surfaces (including water features). Yet rapid change occurring in cities around the world has resulted in the under-valuation of both green space and water resources and thus these amenities have been degraded or destroyed through the urbanization process.