Water resources policy and management - managing trade-offs at the nexus between water, food, energy and the environment

Water sustains societies, economies and ecosystem services globally. Increasing water demands from population growth, coupled with shifts in water availability due to climate and land use change, are increasing competition and conflict over access to and use of freshwater resources in many regions. To address these challenges, integrative approaches to water management and policy are required to balance and manage trade-offs between social, economic and environmental uses of water. This session will provide a forum for showcasing novel and emerging research at the intersection of agricultural production, energy security, economic development, and environmental conservation. In particular, we encourage contributions to the session that: (i) identify knowledge gaps and improvements to understanding about the critical interconnections, feedbacks, and risks between system components, (ii) highlight development of new methods or tools for evaluating and monitoring trade-offs and performance in water allocation and management between different users and sectors, (iii) evaluate alternative technical, policy, and/or governance solutions to address water-food-energy-environment system challenges in different locations and at various scales (local, regional, and even global), and (iv) discuss examples of more and less successful initiatives within research and policy designed to facilitate integrative planning of water-food-energy-environment systems.

Convener: Timothy FosterECSECS | Co-conveners: Roshan AdhikariECSECS, Phoebe Koundouri, Hector Macian-SorribesECSECS, Dolores ReyECSECS
vPICO presentations
| Wed, 28 Apr, 11:00–12:30 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Wed, 28 Apr

Chairpersons: Timothy Foster, Roshan Adhikari, Hector Macian-Sorribes
Seleshi Yalew, Jan Kwakkel, Jazmin Zatarain Salazar, and Neelke Doorn

Water management involves optimizing the allocation of ‘enough’ water, a limited resource, to meet demands from competing actors and/or sectors such as agriculture, energy, ecosystems, and water supply. Although such demands are often associated only with current or existing generations, it’s understandable that future generations will have their own demands for these  resources. There is, therefore, a moral dilemma and a question of justice regarding how much current generations must account for and be concerned with the generations to come with respect to managing resources in general and water resources in particular. Questions of intergenerational justice, i.e., the extent to which we should be concerned about future generations, are becoming increasingly common particularly due to a changing climate and growing population both of which require longer term planning and resources optimization. However, only limited suggestions are available in the literature for the practical implementation of intergenerational justice theories in the water resources literature to address such questions.

Operationalization of justice principles in general, and intergenerational justice principles in particular is hard because different conceptualizations may exist concerning the same moral value. As a result, it’s often difficult to arrive at common understanding, schemes, and/or commitment levels for water resources management, particularly during negotiations in transboundary rivers involving multiple states, socio-political landscapes, and different possible ethical underpinnings.

In this study, we present a novel scheme for operationalizing intergenerational justice which involves analysis and visualization of a range of commitment levels for future generations and trade-off analysis to existing generations. We implemented ranges of discount on current and potential utilization of water resources for various services. These discounts are then applied on water related services, which include water needs for hydropower generation, food production, and for various other human and ecological needs in water basins. By doing so, we present a mechanism for stakeholders in water resources management where they can assign different weights, depending on possibly different ethical underpinnings, to conserving water resources for future generation and evaluate the potential trade-off of such alternatives. We think that this is particularly important to tame negotiations in transboundary water resources management where multiple states, socio-political landscapes, and different ethical underpinnings often lead to escalated disputes. Here, we present our operationalization scheme for the Nile in light of existing disputes in this transboundary water basin. Although our scheme may not escape the challenge of, and hence did not attempt to,  quantitative standardized values across the various stakeholders involved, it provides the opportunity for all stakeholders to put their own value for future generations in water resources management and weigh the implications of their considerations in terms of intergenerational trade-offs. We think this study adds value to the current literature on ethically-informed optimization in water resources management.

How to cite: Yalew, S., Kwakkel, J., Zatarain Salazar, J., and Doorn, N.: Intergenerational justice and trade-off analysis in water resources management of the Nile, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7604, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-7604, 2021.

Mikiyas Etichia, Jose Gutierrez, Mohammed Basheer, Eduardo Martinez, Mathaios Panteli, and Julien Harou

The interlinkages between the water, energy, food, and environment systems of the Eastern Nile Basin are becoming stronger due to an increase in the demand for water, energy, and food and two of the largest multi-year storage dams in the world (i.e., High Aswan Dam and Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)). Significant benefits can be attained if these resource systems are managed in an integrated manner, which would result in improved efficiencies and reduced trade-offs in resource use, and better and more sustainable solutions to future water-energy-food-environment nexus problems. The ongoing construction of the GERD, the largest hydropower plant in Africa, reveals opportunities and challenges in managing the resource nexus of the Eastern Nile Basin. This study integrates an Eastern Nile river system model with a power system model comprising the Eastern portion of the East African Power Pool (i.e., Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Djibouti, and Libya) to investigate how GERD influences the integrated resources of the Eastern Nile Basin countries. The system is modelled using an open-source water resource system simulator (Pywr) and an open-source Python power system simulator. The two simulators are linked using an open-source agent-based model integration framework (Pynsim). Based on existing and plausible future states of the system, three scenarios are formulated and examined: (1) a baseline scenario representing the existing system before GERD, (2) GERD added to the system, including the initial filling and long-term operation phases of the dam, and (3) increased irrigation water abstractions in Ethiopia and Sudan with GERD. Results show that GERD operation reduces (i) electricity curtailments in Ethiopia and Sudan, (ii) irrigation water deficits in Sudan, (iii) Sudan’s greenhouse gas emissions, and (iv) hydropower generation and irrigated water consumption in Egypt. Increasing irrigation water abstraction in Ethiopia and Sudan reduces hydropower generation basin-wide and irrigation water consumption in Egypt. This study demonstrates the benefits of an integrated modelling approach for exploring water-energy-food-environment nexus inter-connections in the Eastern Nile multi-resource system.

How to cite: Etichia, M., Gutierrez, J., Basheer, M., Martinez, E., Panteli, M., and Harou, J.: Future opportunities and risks in managing the Eastern Nile water-energy-food-environment nexus, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7731, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-7731, 2021.

Elena Matta, Matteo Giuliani, Ruslana Palatnik, Morderchai Shechter, Christiane Pyka, Demet Cekin, Mostafa Hassanen, Matteo Vincenzo Rocco, Maria Cristina Rulli, Phoebe Kondouri, Sergio Vergalli, and Andrea Castelletti

Rapid population growth and rising economic prosperity are imperatively challenging the South Mediterranean and the African North-East to a point where they may compromise the sustainable use of natural resources. In those regions, the demand for water, energy, food, and the preservation of ecosystems are expected to increase relevantly. Transboundary rivers like the Nile River Basin represent an enormous source of water, energy, food, and ecosystems (WEFE), which often brings conflicts and individualistic policies among the sharing countries. The adoption of integrated and participatory approaches that explicitly account for the WEFE Nexus are necessary to explore multisectoral synergies and tradeoffs and to generate shared economic, environmental, and societal benefits.

Focused on the Nile River Basin and born in this context, we present here the AWESOME project (i.e. mAnaging Water, Ecosystems and food across sectors and Scales in the sOuth Mediterranean), whose main objective is developing a decision-analytic framework based on a multi-level, integrated WEFE model to address the Nexus and explore the interdependencies and feedbacks across a hierarchy of spatial scales, from the macroeconomic development (macro), to regional planning (meso), down to the single farm (local).

At the local scale, a demo-site of smart agricultural solutions (soilless agriculture, e.g., hydroponics, aquaponics) is currently under construction, and it will provide indicators on effectiveness and sustainability of these new technologies to back up existing systems in a dryer future. The study on site will also demonstrate the performance of such a technology within its local economy and ecosystem. At the meso scale, we are developing a decision-analytic framework covering the course of the Nile River Basin, from the Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) in Ethiopia up to the Nile Delta, based on hydrological models and combined with the results of systems analysis methods with advanced a-posteriori multi-objective optimization algorithms. We plan to simulate existing water availability, water distributions system and new agricultural technologies, upscaling the local scale assessments while downscaling the climate, energy, crop, and ecosystems projections at the macro scale. This approach allows the design of a set of efficient solutions and associated performance with respect to the WEFE multidimensional assessment space, where stakeholders and policy makers will be able to explore multisectoral tradeoffs and negotiate potential compromise alternatives.

We expect that AWESOME will make substantial progress in complex systems analysis to support the transition towards a more sustainable and resilient agriculture along the Nile River Basin under diverging water availability and demand due to the projected impacts of changing climate and society.

How to cite: Matta, E., Giuliani, M., Palatnik, R., Shechter, M., Pyka, C., Cekin, D., Hassanen, M., Rocco, M. V., Rulli, M. C., Kondouri, P., Vergalli, S., and Castelletti, A.: The AWESOME Project: A decision analytic framework for managing Water Energy Food and Ecosystems across sectors and scales in the South Mediterranean, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10411, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10411, 2021.

Bram Droppers, Iwan Supit, Michelle TH van Vliet, and Fulco Ludwig

Currently, irrigation withdrawals are resulting in groundwater exploitation and unmet ecosystem water requirements. However, to achieve worldwide food security, there is a need to focus on sustainable intensification of crop production. This requires a more sustainable use of water for irrigated croplands. Our presentation focuses on quantifying attainable wheat, maize, rice and soybean production on currently irrigated cropland under sustainable water use. Attainable production accounts for increases in nutrient application, while limiting irrigation withdrawals to renewable water availability and without compromising river ecosystem water requirements.

Attainable crop production was quantified using a newly developed two-way coupling between the VIC hydrological model (Droppers et al., 2020) and the WOFOST crop model (Wit et al., 2019). This VIC-WOFOST model framework comprehensively simulates biophysical processes related to water availability and crop growth under water and nutrient limitations. Our results indicate that worldwide crop nitrogen uptake should increase by 20%, to achieve production gap closure. However, worldwide irrigation withdrawals should decrease by more than a third in order to ensure sustainable water use. Under these constraints, decreases in attainable irrigated yields of 5% are expected (14% decrease due to water constraints, 9% increase due to increased nutrient availability). Moreover, achievable irrigated crop production in the extensively irrigated croplands of north-eastern China, Pakistan and north-western India would be reduced by up to a third.

In addition we explored the impact of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on worldwide attainable irrigated production using VIC-WOFOST. Increased atmospheric CO2 concentration increases crop assimilation and decreases crop transpiration. Initial results show that these effects may offset the unsustainable water withdrawals and increase attainable irrigated yields.


Droppers, B., Franssen, W. H., Van Vliet, M. T., Nijssen, B., & Ludwig, F. (2020): Simulating human impacts on global water resources using VIC-5. Geoscientific Model Development, 13(10), 5029-5052, https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-13-5029-2020

de Wit, A., Boogaard, H., Fumagalli, D., Janssen, S., Knapen, R., van Kraalingen, D., ... & van Diepen, K. (2019): 25 years of the WOFOST cropping systems model. Agricultural Systems, 168, 154-167, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2018.06.018.

How to cite: Droppers, B., Supit, I., van Vliet, M. T., and Ludwig, F.: Worldwide water constraints on attainable irrigated production for major crops, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4041, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-4041, 2021.

Sarah Redicker, Roshan Adhikari, Thomas Higginbottom, Ralitza Dimova, and Timothy Foster

More than 70 percent of West Africa’s (WA) poor live in rural areas and depend largely on rain fed agriculture for food production and income generation. The livelihoods of farmers are threatened not only by long-run climate variability but also by seasonal extreme weather events that can reduce yields and increase agricultural income uncertainties. Low adoption levels of improved agricultural technologies and poor soil qualities further increase farmer vulnerability to rainfall variability. Therefore, the impacts of changes in rainfall patterns and rainfall intensity are severe and can result in the loss of income sources poverty and even food insecurity.

To mitigate against losses from these events, farmers in the region engage in several risk diversification strategies. For rural areas where adoption options are limited, diversification of agricultural production or engagement in off-farm work are the most viable options. However, governments and donor agencies pursue other strategies such as agricultural intensification through irrigation development to prepare for increased impacts of climate change. Engagement in year around irrigated agriculture can however, potentially limit farmer’s ability to participate in further risk diversification strategies, especially if these involve off-farm strategies.

A considerable amount of literature has looked at how access to irrigation benefits farmer livelihoods. However, research on this subject has been mostly restricted to benefits of dry season irrigation and impacts of irrigation in overcoming dry spells. What is not yet clear is the benefit of irrigation to overcome effects of irregular rainfall, such as late onset of rainfall in the rainy season and implications for the agricultural income and further risk diversification strategies. This paper seeks to remedy these problems by analysing whether irrigation provides enough security and agricultural income to justify that farmers focus on agriculture as main economic activity and engage in year round farming.

We address this research question in three steps. First we ask how farmers in the region are impacted by rainfall variability. We combine household survey data (n=646) with information collected in focus group discussions and climate data from a case study from North Ghana. Second, we use a two-stage regression analysis to estimate what factors affect smallholder’s decisions to adopt different risk diversification strategies across different strata of irrigation access. In the second stage, we estimate the causal relationship between diversification strategies and household welfare as measured in crop income. This study offers some important insights into applied risk diversification strategies across heterogeneous farmer groups, potentially helping to understand why so many irrigation initiatives have not been successful in involving local farmers in extensive and all year round irrigated agriculture. The comparison of drivers and constraints of diversification strategies across irrigation typologies enables us to value the worth of irrigation for smallholder households in the context of on-farm and off-farm incomes. Additionally, the combination of climate data and targeted questions in the household survey enables us to understand what seasonal rainfall events pose a risk to livelihoods and how frequently they are encountered.

How to cite: Redicker, S., Adhikari, R., Higginbottom, T., Dimova, R., and Foster, T.: Welfare impacts of livelihood diversification strategies in response to rainfall variability - A case study of Northern Ghana, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15356, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15356, 2021.

Hanish Dadool, Sai Jagadeesh Gaddam, and Prasanna Venkatesh Sampath

Increasing anthropogenic stresses have challenged the global population's ability to meet the growing demands of food, energy, and water (FEW). With the population set to hit 9 billion by 2050, it becomes indispensable to manage these three vital resources sustainably. Moreover, climate change is expected to have adverse consequences on agriculture, which is one of the primary occupations in developing countries like India. Extreme weather events caused by climate change could impact agricultural productivity severely, affecting economic-food-water-energy security. Hence, there is a dire need to study the impact of climate on agricultural production and its supporting resources – water and energy. Although studying the nexus between FEW is gaining attention lately, evaluating the future FEW interactions in the agricultural sector with an emphasis on climate change is missing. Therefore, this study employs a data-intensive approach to quantify the current and future FEW interactions under the impact of climate change.

First, FAO's CROPWAT 8.0 model was used to estimate crop water requirements for major crops like paddy, sugarcane, groundnut, cotton, and maize in the study area of Andhra Pradesh state, India. CROPWAT uses a soil water balance approach that requires information about several datasets like evapotranspiration, rainfall, soil, and crop information. Massive datasets such as farm-level agricultural data, station-wise rainfall data, and reference evapotranspiration data were incorporated into the model. Second, we calculate the future crop water requirements using future rainfall and temperature datasets, available till 2095, from Global Climate Models (GCMs) under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 emission scenario. To achieve this at the district-scale, we downscaled the information regarding temperature using the delta change method and applied the Thornthwaite method to estimate the reference evapotranspiration. Then, energy consumed by each crop in every district was quantified. Third, we estimated the current and future FEW interactions using the commonly employed two-at-one-time methodology.

Results indicated that water-intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane account for most groundwater and energy consumption. Southern districts of the state consume relatively more groundwater and energy than the northern regions. Further, high water-intensive crops like paddy were being cultivated in several dry regions, furthering the groundwater resources depletion and rising energy costs. For instance, in Kurnool district, the irrigation water requirements for paddy increased by almost 20% from the 2020s (644 mm) to the 2090s (772 mm). Clearly, such an increase can be attributed to a changing climate causing increased evapotranspiration. The resulting increase in groundwater and energy consumption, has the potential to endanger food and water security in countries like India. The approach outlined in this study also allows us to identify vulnerable hotspots that would enable policymakers to design effective adaptation strategies in the agricultural sector. The synergistic benefits offered by FEW nexus approaches have the potential to ensure food security at local and global scales.

How to cite: Dadool, H., Gaddam, S. J., and Sampath, P. V.: Quantifying the impact of climate change on Food-Energy-Water nexus interactions, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3853, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-3853, 2021.

Emma C. Anderson, Mohammad Reza Alizadeh, Jan Adamowski, Julien Malard, and Ahzar Inam

Failure to consider interactions in the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus can lead to unintended outcomes. In Pakistan, research has suggested that agricultural residues are a viable alternative renewable energy source to address the persistent energy shortfalls and reliance on imported diesel and heavy fuel oil. However, these studies assess the viability from a broad scale and do not adequately account for nexus interactions. For example, a quarter of irrigated land in Pakistan is salt-affected, adversely impacting crop (and residue) yields. Failure to consider climate change impacts on water availability and agricultural productivity also increases uncertainty. Finally, the effects of socioeconomic feedbacks and water management policies are not understood.  To address these challenges, this research applies a coupled physically-based (SAYSMOD), and group (stakeholder) built system dynamics model (P-GBSDM) of the agricultural system in the lower Rechna Doab, Pakistan, to assess the sub-regional viability of residue-based energy production in salt-affected and non-salt-affected lands. The modelled area (750 km2) is within a district found highly suitable for residue-based energy. The P-GBSDM, developed by Inam et al. (2017), captures the socioeconomic and spatially-distributed environmental feedbacks related to agricultural productivity, hydrological parameters and farmer's livelihood indicators. The P-GBSDM is amended for this research to estimate crop residue yield and potential energy production and feedbacks related to farmer income (from selling residues) and crop residue removal. The model is simulated for the years 2000-2030 under different climate change scenarios and stakeholder-suggested salinity management practices. Crop (and residue) yield, equivalent collection radius, farmer income, and soil salinity are used to evaluate the residue-based energy production in this area. Results are compared to literature values. Preliminary results suggest that estimates that do not consider the WEF nexus overestimate residue-based energy generation's potential. 

How to cite: Anderson, E. C., Alizadeh, M. R., Adamowski, J., Malard, J., and Inam, A.: Use of Coupled Human-Water Model for Evaluating the Impacts of the WEF Nexus on the Energy Potential of Crop Residues in Pakistan, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6568, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-6568, 2021.

Giles Exley, Rebecca R. Hernandez, Trevor Page, Michael Chipps, Stefano Gambro, Matt Hersey, Richard Lake, Kali-Stella Zoannou, and Alona Armstrong

Floating solar photovoltaic installations are an emerging form of solar energy deployed on varying types of water bodies globally. Deployments have proliferated in recent years, particularly in land-scarce areas, as the drive to decarbonise the energy-mix intensifies. However, the potential ecosystem opportunities and trade-offs of floating solar photovoltaic installations remain unclear, often acting as a barrier to deployment. Exploiting floating solar photovoltaic knowledge systems, we synthesise evidence and insight from scientists and industry stakeholders, through a systematic review, international survey and workshop, to evaluate potential opportunities and threats to ecosystems. We found that reduced evaporation is the greatest perceived opportunity of floating solar, while detrimental chemical impacts, such as anoxia and internal nutrient loading, are perceived as the greatest threat. Using this knowledge, we assessed the overarching sustainability of floating solar, using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. We identified that floating solar photovoltaic installations may impact on eight of the seventeen SDGs. Given the need to rapidly develop understanding, in light of the anticipated growth rates, we prioritise the knowledge gaps and improvements critical to ensuring floating solar photovoltaic installations minimise ecosystem threats and maximise opportunities, safeguarding overall sustainability.

How to cite: Exley, G., Hernandez, R. R., Page, T., Chipps, M., Gambro, S., Hersey, M., Lake, R., Zoannou, K.-S., and Armstrong, A.: Prioritising ecosystem opportunities and threats of floating solar photovoltaics, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-685, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-685, 2021.

Hector Macian-Sorribes, Patricia Marcos-Garcia, Ilias Pechlivanidis, Louise Crochemore, and Manuel Pulido-Velazquez

Multipurpose water systems are subject to complex trade-offs among competing water uses, which could eventually have a significant potential for conflict. Hence these interlinkages should be properly identified to estimate the impact of changing allocation rules and avoid the trigger of undesirable outcomes. Concretely, forecast-based water allocation requires to assess the outputs of hydrometeorological forecasting within a sectoral context (e.g. urban, agriculture, energy) and contrast it with the current statu-quo. In this regard, stochastic hydro-economic modelling is an efficient approach to compare multipurpose water allocation rules using a common monetary unit, explicitly considering inflow uncertainty and exploiting the potential of hydrometeorological forecasting systems.

Here, we analyse the economic impacts caused by the implementation of forecast-based allocation rules on the Jucar river system in Spain. The economic revenues are calculated by combining Stochastic Dual Dynamic Programming (SDDP) with Model Predictive Control (MPC) forced with hydrometeorological forecasts. The following forecasting systems have been considered: (1) the current system operating rules forced by historical observations, (2) SMHI’s pan-European E-HYPE hydrological forecasting system forced with bias-adjusted ECMWF System 4 seasonal meteorological forecasts and post-processed using fuzzy logic to adjust forecasts to the local hydrological conditions, (3) five seasonal meteorological forecasting systems from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (ECMWF SEAS5, UKMO GloSEA5, MétéoFrance System 6, DWD GCFS and CMCC SPS3), bias-adjusted using linear scaling and further combined with locally-adjusted hydrological models, and (4) an ensemble system based on local observations of past river discharge.

Results show that the forecast-based allocation rules derived from SDDP and MPC improve the revenues obtained by the current policies forced by historical observations (which is the best scenario achievable without modifying the current operation). This indicates that combining stochastic modelling with seasonal forecasts improves water allocation performance without requiring a particular forecasting system. Although the agricultural benefits depend on the forecasting system considered, hydropower’s increases of economic returns are almost the same regardless of the forecast product. This means that hydropower revenues are mainly driven by the fact that forecast-based policies are adopted instead of using a particular forecasting service. Our results show that both uses (i.e. agriculture and hydropower) can simultaneously benefit from forecast-based operating rules, offering opportunities for collaboration to increase the regional water use efficiency.


This study has been supported by the ADAPTAMED project (RTI2018-101483-B-I00), funded by the Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad (MINECO) of Spain and with EU FEDER funds, and co-funded by the postdoctoral program of Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV)

How to cite: Macian-Sorribes, H., Marcos-Garcia, P., Pechlivanidis, I., Crochemore, L., and Pulido-Velazquez, M.: Assessing the Water-Energy-Food nexus on the Jucar river system using hydrometeorological forecasting and stochastic hydro-economic programming, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8733, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8733, 2021.

Patrick Nistahl, Tim Müller, Gerhard Riedel, Hannes Müller-Thomy, and Günter Meon

Climate change impact studies performed for Northern Germany indicate a growing demand for water storage capacity to account for flood protection, low flow augmentation, drinking and agricultural water supply. At the same time, larger storage volumes for hydropower plants can be used to cope with the demands of changing energy supply from fossil to renewable energies. To tackle these challenges for the next decades, a novel reservoir system planning instrument is developed, which consists of combined numerical models and evaluation components. It allows to model simultaneously the current interconnected infrastructure of reservoirs as well as additional planning variants (structural and operational) as preparation for climate change. This planning instrument consists of a hydrological model and a detailed reservoir operation model.

As hydrological model, the conceptual, semi-distributed version of PANTA RHEI is applied.  Bias-corrected regional climate models (based on the RCP 8.5 scenario) are used as meteorological input. The hydrological model is coupled with a detailed reservoir operation model that replicates the complex rules of various interconnected reservoirs based on an hourly time step including pumped storage plants, which may have a subsurface reservoir as a lower basin. Downstream of the reservoirs, the hydrological model is used for routing the reservoir outflows and simulating natural side inflows. In areas of particular interest for flood protection, the hydrological routing is substituted with 2D hydraulic models to calculate the flood risk in terms of expected annual flood damage based on resulting inundation areas.

For the performance analysis, the simulation runs for all integrated modeling variants are evaluated for a reference period (1971-2000) and for future periods (2041-2070). Performance criteria involve flood protection, drinking water supply, low flow augmentation and energy production. These performance criteria will be used as stake holder information as well as a base for further optimization and ranking of the planning variants.

The combination of the hydrological model and the reservoir operation model shows a good performance of the existing complex hydraulic infrastructure using observed meteorological forcing as input. The usage of regional climate models as input shows a wide dispersion of several performance criteria, confirming the expected need for an innovative optimization scheme and the communication of the underlying uncertainties.

How to cite: Nistahl, P., Müller, T., Riedel, G., Müller-Thomy, H., and Meon, G.: Optimized planning and operation of interconnected multi-purpose reservoir systems using integrated modeling for climate change adaptation, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8884, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8884, 2021.

Tim Müller and Günter Meon

The operation optimization of interconnected reservoirs is crucial for effective water resources management. Therefore, a decision support tool for is developed based on the forecasts of natural inflows. Standard forecast procedures are often based on historical streamflows and hydrological modelling of flows using quantitative meteorological forecasts. In recent years, forecasting using deep learning methods and especially recurrent neural networks have gained attention. Compared to other approaches such as regression-based and time series models, artificial neural networks have proven to be more effective and flexible. We propose a long short-term memory network (LSTM) for forecasting inflow into reservoirs with a large watershed. It is trained with observed hourly streamflow and meteorological data and applicable to different forecast horizons. The novelty here is the inclusion of temperature, windspeed and snow into the forecast.

The Drin river cascade (11 830 km²) in Northern Albania was selected as a pilot hydraulic system, whereby the upper part of the Drin river basin covers also parts of North Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro. The cascade consists of three large dams in series. The reservoirs are primarily used for energy generation and, secondarily, for flood retention. The studied LSTM forecast horizons (6, 8, 12 hours; >12 hours) indicate that the Recurrent Neural Network provides a proper forecast of the natural inflows into the reservoir cascade and thus represents a valuable tool for the optimization of the operation of the Drin Cascade under multi-criteria conditions.

How to cite: Müller, T. and Meon, G.: Optimized operation of a multireservoir system by means of Recurrent Neural Networks for inflow forecasting, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16026, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-16026, 2021.

Imen Arfa, Maria Blanco, and Adrián González-Rosell

To make coherent policies and strategies in the water-food system, it is necessary to analyse the synergies and trade-offs based on indicators approach. Policy coherence is considered a fundamental part of the EU’s contribution to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and calls for addressing the interlinkages between various SDGs. In this research, key indicators have been identified to analyse policy coherence within the water-food system in Andalusia (Spain). Furthermore, food and water policy scenarios have been simulated using a system dynamics model to evaluate future water-food trends by 2050. These provide a better understanding of how relevant policies are linked, which in turn helps to conduct integrated policy analyses and develop coherent policies and programmes across various dimensions of sustainable development.

In this region, water availability is a limiting factor for food production. Significant synergies and trade-offs were identified between water saving indicators and food production. An increase in water price causes a decrease in the irrigated area, as well as in irrigation water use. However, water pricing policies also increase crop irrigation water productivity. Agricultural policies that promote alternative sources of water, such as the reuse of treated wastewater, contribute to mitigating water scarcity, especially in the context of adaptation to climate change.

How to cite: Arfa, I., Blanco, M., and González-Rosell, A.: Assessing policy coherence in the Water-Food-Ecosystems nexus, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10773, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10773, 2021.

Cristina Madrid-Lopez, Sergi Ventura, Joan Gilabert, Joan Marull, Elena Domene, and Gara Villalba

The Fitness Check on EU water legislation concluded that there is a need to integrate water issues into other policies such as those related to urban planning. The increase of population in urban areas is expected to raise urban food demand about 50% to 60% globally by 2050. This intensifies the use of water for irrigation purposes as urban planners implement peri-urban agriculture as a way to increase food security and protect ecosystem services from urbanization. If not properly planned, urban and peri-urban agriculture can result in increasing pressures over water resources, such as aquifer depletion or nitrate pollution which impact the overall status of the water bodies. As cities start promoting local agriculture, it is important to provide policy makers with tools to determine the impacts of food production on water resources, from a geo-referenced, systemic water-energy-food perspective.

In this work, we propose a method for the regionalized assessment of the tradeoffs between peri-urban food production potential and the associated impacts over water resources and apply it to the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB). AMB is the most populated urban area of the Mediterranean coast and sixth in Europe. With over 5 million people, the AMB only produces between 7% and 10% of its food demand and the new Metropolitan Urban Master Plan (PDU) scenarios foresee a growth in agricultural land of up to 20%.

The method we propose includes three stages. First, we map peri-urban agricultural land uses available from the local land use classification by CREAF and reclassify them to Copernicus’ CORINE land cover taxonomy in order to facilitate replicability and comparability of results. Second, we use the Water Framework Directive water body status index (high, good, moderate, poor, bad) to create physical vulnerability maps of water bodies. Third, we study how water use relates to water impacts using the vulnerability maps. Following this method, we assess the water-food tradeoffs for four scenarios of agricultural land change, classifying agricultural land according to their food supply potential and water impacts. This method can be used to assess agriculture in other metropolitan regions.

This work is part of the research developed in the ERC Project URBAG: Integrated System Analysis of Urban Vegetation and Agriculture.

How to cite: Madrid-Lopez, C., Ventura, S., Gilabert, J., Marull, J., Domene, E., and Villalba, G.: Food vs water security in cities: A georeferenced sustainability assessment of peri-urban agriculture in metropolitan Barcelona using water vulnerability maps., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12117, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12117, 2021.

Anton Urfels, Surendra Man Shakya, Surendra Maharjan, Bashu Dev Lohanee, Vishnu Pandey, Manohara Khadka, Subash Adhikari, Anil Neupane, Saral Karki, Salin Acharya, Timothy Foster, and Timothy Krupnik

Groundwater constitutes the major source of global freshwater supply - making groundwater data critical for supporting adaptation to climate change. This is especially relevant for climate vulnerable countries like Nepal, where the data needed to characterise water security risks is often either not collected, not made available, or does not meet the needs and interests of decision makers. This constitutes a gap between the availability and demand of hydrological data. Countries have limited capacity for streamlined hydrological research and data collection, which does not correspond to the numerous needs and stakeholder’s interest to handle water stress in agriculture, maintain adequate water supply for biodiversity, and ensure that drinking water is of sufficient quality. A systematic framework for reconciling these capacities and stakeholder interests is therefore necessary. Through the development of an open data collection system, the framework can (i) provide an inclusive space for multi-stakeholder dialogue and (ii) substantiate debates on water resources management and policy – both of which are currently disconnected from each other and from the hydrological realities. Without following an integrated framework, initial pilots to build open hydrological data systems are less likely to be effective as they do not deliver on their potential synergy and cross-sectoral benefits that go in hand increased awareness of scientists about the needs and interest in hydrological data for different user groups.

Here we present such a framework of using novel technologies and approaches to build an open and inclusive hydrological data system in climate vulnerable countries. The framework highlights the issues of inclusion and social sustainability, the use of models, digital technologies, and open and citizen science approaches and considers direct the policy implication of the social-ecological nature of water management: (i) field data availability as a key constraint for advancing the hydrological sciences and making informed policy decision, (ii) social aspects of the hydrological cycle for advancing our understanding of the dynamics between water and nature, and (iii) the social power of models and datasets for influencing policy processes.

The framework is based on ongoing work of piloting a digital groundwater monitoring system in Nepal, co-created by a diverse group of stakeholders, scientists and policymakers. Nepal is currently increasing investments into groundwater irrigation for which decision-makers require better data to target investments in irrigation infrastructure and gauge sustainable limits of groundwater use. A standardized system for collecting and sharing groundwater level data would cater to these information needs: Decreased transactions costs for researchers incentivize collaboration for building models that incrementally fill the gap in information availability and supply. Using our framework for the data system development will further ensure that the systems capability for early warning of localized groundwater depletion and its function as a platform for stakeholder engagement are fully leveraged. Doing so allows decision-makers and researchers to move beyond silo thinking in the agricultural sector and to learn with other sectors, build alliances towards a more integrated water information system, and include issues such as water quality and specific interests of the drinking water community.

How to cite: Urfels, A., Shakya, S. M., Maharjan, S., Lohanee, B. D., Pandey, V., Khadka, M., Adhikari, S., Neupane, A., Karki, S., Acharya, S., Foster, T., and Krupnik, T.: Framework for co-development of an open hydrological data system to enhance climate resilience in climate vulnerable countries: Experience from a digital groundwater monitoring pilot in Nepal, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15104, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15104, 2021.

Jessica Warrack, Mary Kang, and Christian von Sperber

Although observations show that anthropogenic phosphorus (P) can reach groundwater supplies, there has been no comprehensive evaluation of P in groundwater at the global scale. Additionally, there have been minimal studies on distributed sources, such as agriculture, and the effects of oil and gas activities on P contamination in groundwater are poorly understood. We compile and analyze 181,653 groundwater P concentrations from 13 government agencies and 8 individual research studies in 11 different countries in order to determine the extent of P pollution at the global scale. We find that every country with data has groundwater P concentrations that pose a significant risk of eutrophication to surface waters. In Canada and the United States, we study the relationship between land use, focusing on crop/pastureland, and increased P concentrations in groundwater. In Ontario and Alberta, two Canadian provinces with different histories of oil and gas development, we find areas with a high concentration of P groundwater pollution to coincide with regions of intense oil and gas activity. Understanding the effects of anthropogenic sources on phosphorus contamination of groundwater and identifying all possible pathways through which contamination can occur will assist regulators in planning and implementing effective strategies to manage groundwater and surface water quality and sustain ecosystem health.

How to cite: Warrack, J., Kang, M., and von Sperber, C.: Groundwater phosphorus concentrations: global trends and links with agricultural and oil and gas activities, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12260, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12260, 2021.

Jamie Gonzalez Zapata and Tohid Erfani

Current change in dietary preferences brings an increase in food production. A high demand can lead to food security challenges and pressure on the agriculture sector. The agriculture sector has the largest environmental impact on water pollution due to its fertiliser usage, therefore better water management is essential to maintain its quality and availability. This research proposes a nitrogen water pollution trading model that addresses the above challenge. It incentivises farmers to continue making profit whilst reducing pollution simultaneously. We model a mathematical mixed-integer program that simulates farmers behaviour in participating in nitrogen trading based on the catchment regulation as well as their own pollution license. We apply the model amongst four local farms in the agricultural county of Suffolk, Eastern England. Emphasis has been implemented on the total oxidised nitrogen exhibited by each farm, predominantly nitrate. The nitrogen water pollution residue cost of the crops grown on each farm was applied into the model. We discuss how the trading platform can help the framers to participate in trading, increase their crop growth while maintaining the pollution regulation.

How to cite: Gonzalez Zapata, J. and Erfani, T.: Nitrogen water pollution trading: A sustainable solution for future food production, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15172, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15172, 2021.