Testing the resilience of water supply systems to long droughts

Watts, Glenn; von Christierson, Birgitte; Hannaford, Jamie ORCID:; Lonsdale, Kate. 2012 Testing the resilience of water supply systems to long droughts. Journal of Hydrology, 414-415. 255-267.

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Public water supply systems are designed to maintain water supply through extended periods of dry weather without excessive cost or environmental damage. During a drought, water suppliers can take further measures to enhance supplies or reduce demand. The introduction of drought measures is usually formalised in a drought plan, but there is often little evidence that the plan will prove successful during a range of feasible droughts. As the climate changes, recent hydrological data may be a poor guide to future drought, and planned actions may prove insufficient to maintain adequate water supplies. This paper describes a method for testing the resilience of water company drought plans to droughts that are outside recent hydrological experience. Long severe droughts of the nineteenth century provide an opportunity to test water supply system behaviour in a range of realistic droughts. The method developed combines system modelling with an interactive approach that asks water system managers to work through the actions that they would take at different stages of the drought, without knowledge of subsequent drought development. The approach was tested for two contrasting English water resource systems. In both cases, the existing water supply and drought planning measures succeeded in maintaining water supply, but significant demand restrictions and engineering measures had to be introduced. Wider use of the method by water supply planners should allow the refinement of drought and water supply plans, and will also create increased awareness of the actions necessary to manage a range of droughts.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 3 - Science for Water Management > WA - 3.4 - Develop novel and improved methods to enable the sustainable management of freshwaters and wetlands
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems > WA - 1.2 - Quantify variability and departures from natural historical variability in water quality ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems > WA - 1.4 - Management and dissemination of freshwaters data
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Boorman (to September 2014)
ISSN: 0022-1694
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The attached document is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Hydrology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Hydrology, 414-415. 255-267. 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.10.038
Additional Keywords: drought management, water resources planning, long droughts, river flows, water supply, reservoir modelling
NORA Subject Terms: Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 04 Jan 2012 16:27 +0 (UTC)

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