Droughts have a subsequent impact on other processes, goods and services such as urban water supply at risk; damage to water quality in rivers and aquifers; environmental damage to river ecosystems and wetlands; economic losses in agriculture; economic losses in industry; nuclear plant cooling at risk; trigger for desertification; and trigger for forest fires. This case study explores the usefulness of economic instruments that so far have not been applied in the Jucar Basin District, private-public partnerships, and regulatory instruments to improve the resilience to droughts of water resources systems
The Jucar River Basin District is one of the most vulnerable areas to drought in the western Mediterranean region. Hydrological droughts in this region are frequent. They can be very intense and long lasting (frequently for more than 3 years). Since the 1980s the Jucar River basin District suffered four severe periods of drought.
These extraordinary droughts set the urban water supply chain at risk and caused economic losses in agriculture and industry. Droughts also increased the risks to (nuclear) power plant cooling and acted as a trigger for desertification and forest fires. Whilst drought impacts are expected to increase, particular concern is the failure to provide adequate quantity and quality of water to 1.5 million people of the Valencia Metropolitan area.
Partnerships evolvement in the Jucar River Basin District
The diminution of vulnerability to drought has been an objective of planning activities and infrastructures development ever since the creation of the first partnership in the region - the Jucar River Basin Partnership (1936) – yet past drought episodes have mostly been managed in a reactive manner. As a result and since 2000, the Spanish water law requires developing Special Drought Plans (SDP) to transform the traditional reactive drought management approach into a proactive one. Alongside the SDP, a public-private partnership was established to decide upon measures and actions to mitigate the impacts of drought, the Permanent Drought Commission (PDC).
But this multi-stakeholder partnership requires a harmonised vision of the water necessities and accurate mitigation measures to act preventively. It also needs adequate risk information, on which basis it has to decide to re-allocate or prioritise water supply when it becomes scarce.
Working within the existing partnerships, ENHANCE fosters the collaboration and common understanding of all stakeholders through workshops and dialogues with the aim to contribute to a better integrated and interrelated drought management.
To further support the stakeholders, the project aims to provide them with improved hazard and risk assessments as well as instruments for risk reduction, reviewing the weaknesses of measures put in place during past events.
State of play
• The Jucar River Basin Agency (CHJ), a public multi-sectorial partnership for the management and operation of all the water bodies within its territory and competences, is in charge of the system during normal weather situations. During drought emergency situations, the Permanent Drought Commission (PDC), a public-private and multi-sectorial partnership, gathers and looks for measures and actions to mitigate the impacts of the drought episode.
• Within the PDC, each representative is listened to on a similar basis and decisions are usually made via consensus. The participants have access to all the existing data and analysis regarding the risk and the effects of the different measures studied.
• A Royal Decree from the Nation Government grants the PDC additional competencies and special powers leading to a better management during the drought episode.
• The Drought Special Plan of 2007 includes as a requirement that a Drought audit is carried out once a drought episode ends. This audit is meant to detect the gaps and needs for the proper management of future droughts.
• The use of Decision Support Systems, such as the ones developed with AQUATOOL, has a very important role in the decisions made by the partnership since their results give the stakeholders a good perspective of the problems addressed and allows common understanding of everyone’s issues. It also helps to find response to drought problems.
The case study explores the usefulness of economic instruments that so far have not been applied in the Jucar Basin District, private-public partnerships, and regulatory instruments to improve the resilience to droughts of water resources systems. Measures and policies that will be evaluated are: Increasing water use efficiency by means of technological measures; Increasing water use efficiency by and resilience against droughts by economic instruments; Integrated use of different sources of water, including conventional and non conventional, and improving connectivity; Improving monitoring & control systems for hydrology, water flows and deliveries, water reserves, and water quality, in surface waters, and also in groundwater; Special Plans for Drought Management and mitigation.
The total time period for the ENHANCE project encompasses 48 months (month 1: December 2012). The time frame necessary to complete the deliverables within the case study is:
D1. Report: Month 12
D2. Report: Month 17
D3. Report & Database: Month 27
D4. Report: Month 36
D5. Report: Month 39
Five deliverables are formulated by the case study:
D1. Report: Risk profile case study using conceptual framework
D2. Report: Stakeholders analyses and MSP
D3. Report & Database: Risk Assessment results
D4. Report: Description of MSPs and disaster resilience schemes
D5. Report: Case study synthesis and policy recommendations