Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Dulcy M Abraham

Committee Member 1

Daniel A DeLaurentis

Committee Member 2

Fred L Mannering

Committee Member 3

Shawn P McElmurry


Urban decline in once vibrant cities has introduced many challenges to managing civil infrastructure. The fixed infrastructure footprint does not contract with the declining population, but remains relatively stable, resulting in underfunded and underutilized infrastructure. The focus of this dissertation is on the assessment of urban decline on the coupled human and water sector infrastructures. Aspects such as the drivers of population decline and transitioning to a smaller city for the current and projected populations in shrinking cities have been well-studied by political and social scientists. However, the repercussions of urban decline on underground infrastructure systems have thus far been underappreciated. Arising from urban decline are water sector infrastructure issues such as, increased water age, operating on reduced personnel, and underutilized impervious services contributing to stormwater runoff. As cities begin to right-size, understanding the impact of the underutilization on underground infrastructures, and the technical viability of retooling alternatives to aid in right-sizing are important to ensure infrastructures continue to provide adequate services to the residents. This dissertation aims to fill the gap in the body of knowledge and the body of practice regarding the impact of urban decline (and underutilization) on the coupled human and water sector infrastructure systems, the technical viability of retooling alternatives, and the public views towards these infrastructure systems and retooling alternatives.