Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-129
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-129

  30 Apr 2021

30 Apr 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal NHESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

Demonstrating the impact of integrated drought policies on hydrological droughts

Doris E. Wendt1, John P. Bloomfield2,, Anne F. Van Loon3,, Margaret Garcia4, Benedikt Heudorfer5, Joshua Larsen1, and David M. Hannah1 Doris E. Wendt et al.
  • 1School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  • 2British Geological Survey, Wallingford, UK
  • 3Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL
  • 4Arizona State University, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Tempe, AZ, USA
  • 5UDATA GmbH, Neustadt a.d. Weinstrasse, DE
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Managing water-human systems in times of water shortage and droughts is key to avoid overexploitation of water resources, particularly for groundwater, which is a crucial water resource during droughts sustaining both environmental and anthropogenic water demand. Drought management is often guided by drought policies to avoid crisis management and to actively introduce management strategies during droughts. However, the impact of drought management strategies on hydrological droughts is rarely assessed. In this study, we present a newly developed socio-hydrological model, simulating feedbacks between water availability and managed water use over three decades. Thereby, we aim to assess the impact of drought policies on both surface water and groundwater droughts. We tested this model in an idealised catchment based on climate data, water resource management practices, and drought policies in England. The model includes surface water storage (reservoir), groundwater storage for a range of hydrogeological conditions and optional imported surface water or groundwater. These modelled water sources can all be used to satisfy anthropogenic and environmental water demand. We tested four aspects of drought management strategies: 1) increased water supply, 2) restricted water demand, 3) conjunctive water use, and 4) maintained environmental flow requirements by restricting groundwater abstractions. These four strategies were evaluated in separate and combined scenarios. Results show mitigated droughts for both streamflow and groundwater droughts in scenarios applying conjunctive use, particularly in low groundwater storage systems. In high groundwater storage systems, maintaining environmental flows reduces hydrological droughts most. Scenarios increasing or restricting water demand have an opposing effect on droughts, although these scenarios are in balance when combined at the same time. Most combined scenarios reduce the severity and occurrence of hydrological droughts given an incremental dependency on imported water that satisfies up to a third of the total anthropogenic water demand. The necessity for importing water shows the considerable pressure on water resources and the delicate balance of water-human systems during droughts that calls for short-term and long-term sustainability targets within drought policies.

Doris E. Wendt et al.

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-129', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 May 2021
    • AC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-129', Doris Wendt, 04 Jun 2021
  • AC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-129', Doris Wendt, 04 Jun 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on AC1', Doris Wendt, 04 Jun 2021
      • RC2: 'Reply on AC2 - Fig. 1', Anonymous Referee #1, 07 Jun 2021
        • AC4: 'Reply on RC2', Doris Wendt, 05 Jul 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on nhess-2021-129', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Jun 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Doris Wendt, 02 Jul 2021

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-129', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 May 2021
    • AC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-129', Doris Wendt, 04 Jun 2021
  • AC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-129', Doris Wendt, 04 Jun 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on AC1', Doris Wendt, 04 Jun 2021
      • RC2: 'Reply on AC2 - Fig. 1', Anonymous Referee #1, 07 Jun 2021
        • AC4: 'Reply on RC2', Doris Wendt, 05 Jul 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on nhess-2021-129', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Jun 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Doris Wendt, 02 Jul 2021

Doris E. Wendt et al.

Doris E. Wendt et al.

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Short summary
Managing water demand and supply during droughts is complex, as highly pressured human-water systems might overuse water sources to maintain (essential) water supply. In this study, the impact of drought policies is investigated using a socio-hydrological model. For a range of hydrogeological conditions, integrated drought policies reduce baseflow and groundwater drought most. However, these policies also increase the need to import water, marking the pressure on water resources during droughts.
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