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Diagnosing Causes of Water Scarcity in Complex Water Resources Systems and Identifying Risk Management Actions


From the water management perspective, water scarcity is an unacceptable risk of facing water shortages to serve water demands in the near future. Water scarcity may be temporary and related to drought conditions or other accidental situation, or may be permanent and due to deeper causes such as excessive demand growth, lack of infrastructure for water storage or transport, or constraints in water management. Diagnosing the causes of water scarcity in complex water resources systems is a precondition to adopt effective drought risk management actions. In this paper we present four indices which have been developed to evaluate water scarcity. We propose a methodology for interpretation of index values that can lead to conclusions about the reliability and vulnerability of systems to water scarcity, as well as to diagnose their possible causes and to propose solutions. The described methodology was applied to the Ebro river basin, identifying existing and expected problems and possible solutions. System diagnostics, based exclusively on the analysis of index values, were compared with the known reality as perceived by system managers, validating the conclusions in all cases.

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Correspondence to Francisco Martin-Carrasco.

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Martin-Carrasco, F., Garrote, L., Iglesias, A. et al. Diagnosing Causes of Water Scarcity in Complex Water Resources Systems and Identifying Risk Management Actions. Water Resour Manage 27, 1693–1705 (2013).

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