Articles | Volume 364
16 Sep 2014
 | 16 Sep 2014

Assessing risks for integrated water resource management: coping with uncertainty and the human factor

M. J. Polo, C. Aguilar, A. Millares, J. Herrero, R. Gómez-Beas, E. Contreras, and M. A. Losada

Keywords: Risk, uncertainty, call-effect, water resource planning

Abstract. Risk assessment for water resource planning must deal with the uncertainty associated with excess/scarcity situations and their costs. The projected actions for increasing water security usually involve an indirect "call-effect": the territory occupation/water use is increased following the achieved protection. In this work, flood and water demand in a mountainous semi-arid watershed in southern Spain are assessed by means of the stochastic simulation of extremes, when this human factor is/is not considered. The results show how not including this call-effect induced an underestimation of flood risk after protecting the floodplain of between 35 and 78 % in a 35-year planning horizon. Similarly, the pursued water availability of a new reservoir resulted in a 10-year scarcity risk increase up to 38 % when the trend of expanding the irrigated area was included in the simulations. These results highlight the need for including this interaction in the decision-making assessment.