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Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 827–839 | Cite as

Risk to water security for small islands: an assessment framework and application

  • Shannon HoldingEmail author
  • Diana M. Allen
Original Article

Abstract

The freshwater resources of small islands are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and human stressors due to their limited extent and adaptive capacity. A water security approach is useful for effective management of the water resources; however, understanding risk to water security is critical in order to effectively plan and adapt to future changes. Currently available assessment tools generally do not incorporate risk and are not suitable for application on small islands, where the hydrogeological setting has unique vulnerabilities. The aim of this work is to provide a framework to characterize risk to water security for small islands. The risk assessment was developed using Andros Island, the Bahamas, as a case study area. Numerical modelling characterizes the response of the water system to potential future stressors related to climate change and human development, the results of which are integrated into the assessment framework. Based on risk assessment principles, indicators are determined for susceptibility, hazard threat, vulnerability and loss, in order to define the risk to water security. The resulting indicators are presented in geospatial maps that rank areas of risk to water security. These maps were provided to local water managers and policy-makers in the Bahamas as a tool to identify high-risk areas for near-term action and to inform long-term planning. The maps have also been used as a platform to engage local residents and raise awareness about the impact climate change and land-use activities may have on water security.

Keywords

Small islands Water security Risk assessment Climate change Land use 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Royal Bank of Canada’s Blue Water Project™ in partnership with The Nature Conservancy Northern Caribbean Office and the Bahamas National Trust. The Bahamas Water and Sewerage Corporation provided field data for model calibration. Additional funding was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) through a Discovery Grant to Diana Allen.

Supplementary material

10113_2015_794_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (103 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 104 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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