Water Resources Management under Changing Climate: Major Issues

Ramesh S. V. Teegavarapu

Florida Atlantic University

Elpida Kolokytha

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Carlos de Oliveira Galvao

Federal University of Campina Grande

Major Issues

New and innovative approaches and tools are required to address major issues that affect the design and robust management of water resources systems in the future due to uncertainties associated with changing climate. Major issues related to climate change-sensitive water resources management can be addressed by the following tasks:

  • • Assessment of changes and trends in hydroclimatic variables for improved understanding of any links of these changes to climate change and variability.
  • • Evaluation of existing hydroclimatic extremes and development of hydrologic design procedures and climate change-sensitive water resources management options.
  • • Involvement of decision-makers in the development of new adaptation strategies for integrated water resources management.
  • • Handling of extreme events based on past and projected climate and development of approaches for the operation of hydrosystems for mitigation of impacts from these events and the creation of robust climate change-sensitive long-term operation policies.
  • • Assessment of water scarcity in semi-arid and drought-prone regions by innovative water harvesting schemes considering climate variability and change.
  • • Developing adaptive short-term operation of single- and multi-reservoir systems by making use of weather forecasts.
  • • Optimizing the utilization of structural and non-structural measures for disaster mitigation under climate change scenarios.
  • • Generating nature-based solutions as climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
  • • Development of decision support systems that can use domain expertise for handling impacts of climate change for adaptive disaster mitigation strategies.
  • • Policy development and implementation at national, regional, and global levels.

Overview of the Contents of the Book

This book contains chapters of distinguished scientists covering a wide range of aspects from hydrologic design to management and policy responses to climate change. In brief, the book brings updated theory, methods, tools, and experiences on the topic of water resources under climate change. The practical and applied approach of the book, through the use of case studies, will provide the readers in different regions of the world with ready-to-use information.

In Chapter 1 (i.e., this chapter), the authors provide a brief introduction to water resources management under changing climate and the challenges of ensuring water availability in both space and time. The main issues and challenges are briefly discussed in the context of sustainable water resources management. Chapter 2 by Kolokytha and Skoulikaris discusses integrated water resources management (IWRM) and policies that need to be in place to adapt to changing climate. Adaptive measures and capacity, dealing with risks related to future uncertain climate, and guidelines available to policy-makers and practitioners for developing robust climate change-sensitive water resources management are discussed. The policies discussed are specific to the European Union, and experiences from Greece are documented. Guidance for integrating different parameters in the decision-making process is provided. In Chapter 3, Serrao-Neumann and Jozaei address the challenges faced by water resources and disaster management agencies in handling extreme events (viz., floods and droughts). Lessons learned from the evaluation of climate change adaptation strategies for extreme events in one region of Australia are documented. Insights from the Australian case study are provided.

In Chapter 4, Oishi discusses the need for adaptive short-term operation of reservoir systems based on information from numerical weather forecast model-based quantitative precipitation forecast estimates (QPFs). The uncertainty in precipitation estimates is quantified to improve operation rules of reservoirs with the main purpose of flood control. Experiences from Japan about the operation of small-capacity reservoirs using short-term forecasts are provided. Chapter 5 by Patel and Sharma focusses on the impacts of climate change on streamflow extremes in one major river basin in western India and discusses the experiences of managing floods. Insights gained from flood protection schemes based on extensive hydrologic and hydraulic modeling with multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDM) are provided in this chapter.

In Chapter 6, Nohara, Sato, and Sumi provide another case study in Japan dealing with the effectiveness of adaptive options for the operation of a multi-purpose reservoir considering climate change. The chapter also focusses on the evaluation of the structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Grossi, Balistrocchi, Barontini, and Ranzi assess the use of nature-based solutions as climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in Italy in Chapter 7. A review of multiple case studies of structural and non-structural measures being implemented in Regione Lombardia, together with an assessment of actual trends of extreme rainfall, is elaborated in this chapter.

Chapter 8 authored by Rufino, Galvao, and Srinivasan discusses the concept of a spatial decision support system and its application to a region in Brazil to aid in the identification of flood-prone areas. Spatial modeling of knowledge in the decision support system is based on the expertise of professionals, available policies and regulations, and other relevant factors that have improved the decision-making process. In Chapter 9, Teegavarapu provides an overview of the changing nature of hydrologic design under the evolving climate and documents experiences from the U.S. The main focus is on the precipitation extremes and development of design aids for hydrologic design and water resources management under the influences of climate change and variability. Kim, Seo, and Yoon in Chapter 10 derive and discuss approaches for incorporating robustness into reservoir operations considering the non-stationary climate. Stochastic optimization models are used to consider inflow uncertainty for a multi-purpose dam in South Korea. Assessments from the applications of models and insights gained are documented in this chapter. Finally, in Chapter 11, Kolokytha, Teegavarapu, and Galvao briefly discuss and summarize possible future actions suitable for sustainable climate change-sensitive water resources management.

It is expected that this monograph with a compendium of innovative methodologies and geographically diverse case studies will serve as a beneficial guide to water resources modellers and management professionals worldwide.

WRM and EU policies to adapt to climate change

WRM and EU Policies to Adapt To Climate Change: Experience from Greece

Elpida Kolokytha and Charalampos Skoulikaris

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki


The past 30 years are characterized by significant changes in the planning, design, and management of water resources all over the planet. Mounting concerns about overpopulation, the environmental impacts of human activities, potential climatic changes, significant shifts in the quality of life, pollution, and rapid socioeconomic vagaries have called upon integrated approaches. The balancing of competing water uses and conflicting water users’ interests, the interdependence between water and other sectors, such as energy production and irrigated agriculture, and the achievement of water security are crucial for development, poverty alleviation, ecosystem protection, and finally for the success of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has gained a lot of criticism regarding whether it can be considered as a universal approach to improve water management (Biswas, 2008; Molle, 2008; Merrey, 2008; Mcdonnell, 2008). The definition provided by the Global Water Partnership in 2000 (GWP, 2000), according to which “IWRM is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources to maximize that resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems," stands as an accurate summary of recent attempts to explain what IWRM means. IWRM consists of the following (UN Environment, 2018):

  • • An enabling environment of policies, laws, and plans
  • • Institutional arrangements for cross-sectoral and multilevel coordination, and stakeholder involvement
  • • Management instruments such as data collection and assessments and instruments for water allocation that facilitate better decisions
  • • Financing for water infrastructure and ongoing costs of water resources management.

The main challenge though is how to implement IWRM (Biswas, 2008; Molle, 2008; UN Environment, 2018). Integrated Water Resource Management could be an overall decision-making framework for mainstreaming climate change measures into plans (Gelil, 2013); however, water has linkages to all development sectors and social issues, and hence IWRM demands a lot of effort and a variety of trade-offs between the different objectives to be successfully implemented. The report of SDG 6.1 confirms that less than 50% of all countries have achieved implementation of IWRM plans (UN

Environment, 2018). At the same time, organizations such as the UNESCO with its, Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) promote IWRM as a tool for sustainable development (Skoulikaris et al., 2018).

The European Union (EU) has a long history of environmental policies, and since the early 1970s, it has been involved in almost every area of the environment. Europe’s water resources are characterized by a wide diversity of temporal and spatial variability, shared basins, and ecosystems threatened by pollution and over-abstraction. However, coordinated action in certain sectors (e.g. agriculture, water, biodiversity, urban development, tourism, fisheries, and energy networks) and common policies are required (EU COM (2009) 147 final). EU supports the sustainable use and management of water and fosters the better integration of sectoral policies into relevant EU financial mechanisms (EU COM 2016), also serving the principles of IWRM. Currently, and starting from 2017, the outputs of EU environmental policies are attributed to the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR), which is a bi-annual cycle of analysis, dialogue, and collaboration to improve implementation of the EU environmental policy and law.

Water is a vital resource, significantly affected by climate change. The impacts of climate change on water resources are encountered as increases in temperature, shifts in precipitation patterns and snow cover, and a likely intensification of the frequency of extreme events (floods and droughts) (EEA, 2018a; IPCC, 2014, 2018). The impacts of climate change on water resources differ depending on the region. Evidence shows that the northern part of Europe has become 10%-40% wetter over the last century, whereas southern Europe has become up to 20% drier. Annual river discharge has increased in eastern Europe, while it has fallen in southern Europe (EEA, 2018b).

Alterations in the water cycle provoke chain reactions to groundwater recharge as periods of intense rainfall characterized by more runoff and less infiltration combined with increased evapotranspiration are expected to lead to groundwater depletion (Huntington, 2006; World Bank, 2016). The uncertainty regarding where and how climate change will impact water hinders effective water management. Alterations in the water supply (Wada et al., 2013; World Bank, 2016) affect ecosystem services and sectors. Agriculture, health, food security, public safety, biodiversity, tourism, and hydropower production are mostly affected (FAO, 2019; Ganoulis & Skoulikaris, 2011).

There are two types of measures of equal importance and different orientation to deal with the impact of climate change on water resources. Mitigation measures aim at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while adaptation measures are based on reducing vulnerability to climate change. Mitigation, therefore, attends to the causes of climate change, while adaptation addresses its impacts.

Toward this direction, i.e. actions and measures for anticipating the unpredicted and adverse impacts of climate change, adaptation is considered the most appropriate approach. According to the IPCC (2007), adaptation is defined as

“any adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. Various types of adaptation can be distinguished, including anticipatory and reactive adaptation, private and public adaptation, and autonomous and planned adaptation. ”

Thus, adaptation promotes measures and actions that prevent or mitigate the damage derived from climate change.

Climate change due to human-driven changes in the global atmosphere may not be subject to the well-known “stationarity” (Kundzewicz et al., 2007; Milly et ah, 2008). Whether weather stationarity exists or not is still open to debate (Lins & Cohn, 2011; Koutsoyiannis, 2011). If stationarity is “dead,” new theories and tools need to be developed to assist water management decision-making (Kolokytha et ah, 2017). Great difficulty is encountered mainly with the existing institutional and regulatory framework, especially in the implementation of policy aspects, and not so much with hydrologic uncertainty. Hence, the challenge for policy-makers is to understand these climate change impacts and to develop and implement policies and measures to ensure an optimal level of adaptation. Adaptation measures and actions should fall into a broader development context and not just be separate practical measures. Mainstreaming adaptation measures should be supported by strong water governance, “smart” technology and flexible institutions, followed by enhanced data collection on climate and the newly emerged water risks.

Adaptation can encompass national or regional plans as well as practical steps that could be implemented at both bottom-up and top-down administration levels. The present research provides recommendations on how to integrate adaptation strategies in water resources management by providing an exemplary case study of Greece, an EU member state. In particular, Section 2.2 aims at overviewing the EU legislation on water and at demonstrating its linkage with the IWRM concept. In Section 2.3, emphasis is put on the evolution of the EU policy towards adaptation, while EU actions and funding means for supporting adaptation strategies are also highlighted. The next section, i.e. Section 2.4, sheds light on the aims of the national adaptation strategies by illustrating the Greek implementation process both at a national and a regional level. The evaluation of the EU adaptation strategy as well as of the national adaptation strategies is provided in Section 2.5, while Section 2.6 consists of the concluding chapter. In that last part, the weaknesses and advantages of the adaptation process in the water sector are discussed.

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