The Way Ahead: Adaptive Water Management and Climate Effects

Elpida Kolokytha

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Ramesh S. V. Teegavarapu

Florida Atlantic University

Carlos de Oliveira Galvao

Federal University of Campina Grande


It is already apparent that human activities have had a significant climate effect. Development paths had modified the likelihood of climatic events and trends and augmented the associated risks. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2014) notes that 93% of the impacts associated with climate change will be felt in the water sector in terms of water quality and quantity but it varies across the world regions. Mitigation and adaptation strategies consider these dynamics and the inter-linkages between socio-economic development and the vulnerability of people. According to the UN (WWAP 2015), the planet is facing a 40% shortage, all in water supply by 2030, unless the world changes the way it thinks and manages water.

Adaptive management is an important concept that provides a robust analytical framework based on the experience and best practices of scientists and practitioners conducting detailed analyses of adaptation options. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2014, p. 1758) defined adaptation as ‘the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects’. Adaptation is aimed at alleviating harmful effects or taking advantage of the beneficial opportunities through anticipatory, autonomous (Noble et al. 2014), and/or planned actions (Mimura et al. 2014).

Scientists need to bridge the gap between theory and practice concerning climate impacts at different scales and enable appropriate adaptive policies, across all sectors, to support effective and efficient decision-making on water use, allocation, and management. Contemporary methods of measuring the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of water systems are needed to reinforce targeted policies and prudent allocation of limited financial, human, and natural resources. The practical and applied approach of this book, through beneficial case studies, spanning from hydrology design to management and policy responses to climate change, provides the readers in different regions of the world with ready-to-use information. The authors document their experiences from eight countries including Australia, Brazil, Greece, Italy, India, Japan, Korea, and the U.S.A.

Innovative Approaches to Adaptive Water Management

The variety of water management cases presented in this book allows the reader to draw a rich synthesis on the current major issues as well as the approaches to overcome them. From the analyses of the case studies, seven innovative approaches to water resources management (WRM) were extracted. Some of them are consensual in the current discussion on the topic; some are still under debate; and all are worthful for consideration of further improvement as well as application to real-world problems. They were developed considering WRM under the broader conditions posed by the ever-present uncertainty - large or even deep - driven by climate change. Therefore, these innovative approaches to WRM, to be effective, must be adaptive, robust, and climate change-sensitive (Figure 11.1).

Evidence-Based Interdisciplinary Research (The Value of Cooperation between Sciences)

It becomes obvious that there is a new context of rapid change that requires anticipatory, participatory, contingency, and flexible approaches to deal with the interdependencies observed between the climate, the land, the water, the natural systems and people (Figure 11.2). The new conditions of non-stationarity (challenging the validity of hydrologic models under changing climate conditions), together with the magnitude and frequency of extreme events and their impacts, call for a new approach in

I l.l The way ahead

Figure I l.l The way ahead: seven innovative approaches to adaptive water management.

Crafting innovative approaches to adaptive water management, planning, and engineering

Figure 11.2 Crafting innovative approaches to adaptive water management, planning, and engineering.

water management, planning, and engineering, which implies the integration of multiple sciences as the water problems can only be solved through an interdisciplinary approach and close cooperation of natural and social sciences (Montanari et al. 2015, Reddy & Syme 2014). Moreover, there is an imperative need for a much broader education covering physical processes, socioeconomic systems, and the ability to analyze and model «Big Data» (Vogel at al. 2015).

Adaptive management strategies employ evidence-based approaches to learn from the implementation of actions or policies under great uncertainty (Kolokytha & Skou- likaris, this volume). The new information from the cooperation of various scientific fields is employed to update scientific knowledge to integrate their insight to construct a more comprehensive understanding of the system and the influences of actions and policies and to inform decision-making on potential options to improve implementation and better achieve desired outcomes (Repko et al. 2011).

According to Vlachos (2011), new planning for climate adaptation involves increasingly multi-dimensional, multi-purpose, and multi-objective considerations that revolve around historical roots of water problems, different ecosystemic combinations, levels of socio-economic development, questions of sustainability, political considerations, and variables of technical structures and procedures. Considerations of long-term system operation and infrastructure design for scarce resource allocation at the river basin scale as well as risk management strategies that integrate financial and structural solutions across multiple stakeholders and scales (spatial and temporal) are central quests for effective climate adaptation (Teegavarapu, this volume; Kim et al., this volume). Each of the above addresses scientific, social, and engineering challenges related to how humans influence water systems and vice versa (Vogel at al. 2015).

Accurate Data and Coupled Climate–Hydrology Analysis and Modeling

No doubt that there exist direct and indirect effects associated with the coupling and associated feedback between human and hydrologic systems. While significant progress has been made in improving predictive hydrological modeling and/or management approaches (Oishi, this volume), there is still a long way to go to effectively connect climate variability in key factors as the state of the socio-ecological system is dynamically changing in response to climate change (IWR 2013; Nohara et ah, this volume; Teegavarapu, this volume).

The focus now is to understand how the drivers of demand themselves may evolve or should be guided, given the anticipated long-term hydrologic outcomes. Improvements in hydrologic prediction must include a full decision-oriented accounting for prediction uncertainty (Rosner et al. 2014; Kim et ah, this volume), which will lead to improvements in water management to enable sustainable development. Climate is only one among many changes that are expected to occur such as land use, economy, and population growth (Patel & Sharma, this volume). Therefore, hydrologists should guide the development of a predictive theory of factors that determine water availability and use in any particular socioeconomic and institutional setting.

Water Supply and Demand Management (High Levels of Uncertainty Regarding Projected Impacts)

Until very recently, large infrastructures (dams, reservoirs, etc.) were designed and calculated assuming that the availability of water resources would be approximately the same over time (Teegavarapu, this volume). Due to significant changes both in water demand and variations in precipitation and extreme events, projections for the water parameters have high vulnerability and levels of uncertainty and cannot assure the fulfillment of respective water needs (Kolokytha & Skoulikaris, this volume).

Water scarcity and rising water demand were also confronted until now, due to the development of expensive and complex infrastructures, necessary to store excessive seasonal water in reservoirs to be transferred to high water-demand areas (Oishi, this volume). The volume of water stored in the reservoirs, critical for the water supply, leads to the exploitation of alternative sources such as seawater desalination plants, possible water transfers, rainwater harvesting, wastewater reuse, and «green» solutions through the use of renewable resources (Versini et al. 2016; Grossi et al., this volume).

Solutions revolve around water use efficiency and demand management options aiming at reducing the excessive use and waste of freshwater and at the same time better regulating the competition for the various water uses through innovative technologies and provision of incentives for water conservation as this is the cheapest solution ever (Serrao-Neumann & Jozaei, this volume; Nohara et al., this volume).

Integrated Consideration of Floods, Droughts, and Hydrological Processes

Traditionally, floods and droughts are considered separate events, even driven by different climatic, hydrological, and societal processes (Kundzewicz et al. 2002). Thus, prediction, forecasting, and management approaches have been developed suited to each of these events. However, links between both events have long been established by the ocean-climate circulation and teleconnection studies (Trenberth 2005), which prompted a gradual pathway towards integrated water resources process studies (Montanari et al. 2015).

The set of case studies presented in the previous chapters of this book constitutes an excellent showcase of the full interconnection and interdependence between floods and droughts, surface and groundwater, and water quantity and quality. Their analyses and approaches demonstrate the way ahead and the great remaining challenges for conceptualizing, modeling, and managing these interdependencies.

Usually modeled by water resources analysts for water conservation or flood control, reservoirs are analyzed by Kim et al., Patel et al., Nohara et al., and Oishi (this volume) considering their behavior during droughts as conditioned by their operations during the flood season, and vice-versa. In this context, the decision-making processes are fully interdependent. The management responses should be designed as tailored to address both hazards, as demonstrated by Serrao-Neumann & Jozaei (this volume) and Rufino et al. (this volume). Also of paramount importance is to consider a multi-horizon analysis when designing robust WRM measures, capable of dealing with weather events, seasonal to decadal climate variability, and long-term climate change.

Adaptation of Existent Water Resources Infrastructure and Non-Structural Measures

The expansion of water supply and flood protection infrastructure is severely limited by river basin hydrological availability and environmental constraints. Thus, adapting the existing infrastructure, either through upgrading/redevelopment or improving operation, is often mandatory (Nohara et al., this volume). Redevelopment of the existing infrastructure demands new and innovative approaches to hydrological design methods, considering climate change and variability, constituting an increasing challenge to water resources engineering (Teegavarapu, this volume). On the other hand, very relevant accomplishments have been achieved by innovative approaches to hydrosystem operations, taking advantage of better ensemble hydrological forecasts or projections under climate change (Oishi, this volume). Consolidated approaches, such as stochastic dynamic programming, have been revisited and adapted to deal with these new data availabilities (Nohara et al., this volume), and new methods are developed to face the challenges of considering climatic, hydrological, and societal changes (Kim et al., this volume).

Besides improving and optimizing the effectiveness of existing infrastructures, non-structural measures are of most importance and sometimes the only remaining WRM alternative. Particularly, they have been very successfully applied to water sensitive urban design and planning (Rufino et al., this volume). Urban land-use has a fundamental role in regulating water supply demands and flood risks, but its planning is usually carried out without full integration to WRM (Serrao-Neumann & Jozaei, this volume). Additionally, the so-called nature-based solutions are a promising and challenging approach to land and water management, requiring integrated consideration of legal, cultural, climatic, hydrological, and geomorphological features of the urban environment (Grossi et al., this volume).

Regulatory, Legal, and Policy Approaches (Obstacles in Implementation, Need for Further Integration)

Historically, regulatory structures and policies in both developed and developing countries favored inefficient and unsustainable water management practices (CAP Net 2018). Usual issues are related to lack of articulation and consensus between institutions and policies, asymmetries between different levels of governance, the distance between government actions and initiatives of the civil society, design shortcomings of policies and regulations, among other factors.

New institutions and governance models should be adopted having the following characteristics (Kolokytha & Skoulikaris, this volume; Serrao-Neumann & Jozaei, this volume):

  • • Collaboration and joint work across different levels of governance (local, regional, central/national).
  • • Coordinated governance of adaptive management strategies and policies, which must work both vertically and crosswise in the geographic jurisdictions of a river basin/aquifer.
  • • Institutional integration in terms of recognizing successful actions and improving transparency and accountability.
  • • Recognition and consideration, in policy formulation and implementation, of the large uncertainties underlying the current and future states of both natural and social systems.

Besides these features, regulations should include hydraulic and hydrologic design and operational parameters and criteria, which can induce and guide more sustainable water and land use, reducing water-related hazards (Grossi et al., this volume; Rufino et al., this volume).

Participatory Approaches, the Role of End-Users and Stakeholders (Informed Citizens)

Understanding the role of stakeholders in the decision-making process is crucial in the implementation of adaptation policies. The term “stakeholder” in climate change studies refers to policymakers, scientists, administrators, communities, and managers in the economic sectors most at risk (Lim et al. 2004). In this context, stakeholders can provide science-based and policy-based contributions, develop a joint understanding of the issues, improve the knowledge base, and create adaptations (Rufino et al., this volume). Effective climate adaptation requires informed citizens, groups, communities, organizations, and institutions at all scales and all levels (Kolokytha & Skoulikaris, this volume).

Participatory approaches enhance the opportunities for the implementation of selected policies and measures. Action is important in adaptation, and stakeholder dialogues can form an important part of all water allocation projects and water operation projects achieving consensus on various water issues at hand, as they can assess the viability of adaptive measures (Kim et al., this volume).

We are facing a transition period where new ethics, habits, and considerations demand a “new global theory” for the use, planning, and management of water which is the most climate-sensitive of all resources. Needless to say, transitions are complex processes that necessitate changes in lifestyles, in practices, in institutions, and in technologies, and implementation of these changes is a hard task (Serrao-Neumann & Jozaei, this volume). Participatory approaches are “catalyst to change”, where actors influence other groups to initiate change.

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