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An integrated approach for water stress mitigation options identification and evaluation: the case of Lower Guadiana River Basin

Congress: 2008
Author(s): R. Giordano(*), R. Maia(**), M. Vurro(*), V.F. Uricchio(*)
(*)National Research Council (CNR) – Water Research Institute (IRSA), Bari, Italy (**)Hydraulics, Water Resources and Environment Division Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

Keyword(s): Water stress, Integrated water resources management, evaluation process, Cognitive Modelling
AbstractWater stress is among the most pressing problem to be faced by both politicians and scientific community. Many conflicts can emerge between different communities and different uses since sharing a very limited and fundamental resource is extremely difficult. Therefore, the involvement of all interested actors in the decision process, and the integration of different knowledge sources to support decision making play a fundamental role. The work described in this contribution has been carried out within AquaStress EU Integrated Project. AquaStress (AQS) is generating scientific innovations to improve the understanding of water stress from an integrated multisectoral perspective to support, within all the objectives, the assessment of the effectiveness of water stress management measures and development of new tailored options and the development of supporting methods and tools to evaluate different mitigation options and their potential interactions. Our work contributes to reach this aim by supporting the evaluation of options’ efficacy in the AQS Portuguese Case Study Region, focused in the left margin of Portuguese Guadiana river basin. The Case Study Region, embracing three river basin Municipalities bordering Spain, is the mainland national region with lowest density (17 inhab/ km2), the lowest PIB and the biggest index of social desertification, and is the most droughts’ vulnerable area in the basin. The implementation of water management strategies and the development of infrastructures are aimed to face and solve the lack of water quantity and quality problems in that region. This contribution aims to integrate experts and local stakeholders knowledge to support the identification of water strategies and actions to mitigate water stress in the region. Moreover, adopting an adaptive management approach, an integrated evaluation system is defined. This system supports the evaluation of actions efficacy according to an integrated set of operational criteria. The results of the evaluation process can be used to suggest possible refinements in water stress mitigation strategies and actions. To this aim an approach based on the integration between experts and stakeholders knowledge has been adopted. To facilitate the collection and integration of these different kinds of knowledge, a methodology based on Cognitive mapping has been developed. Such a methodology is composed by several steps. Firstly, local stakeholders are required to express their knowledge about the territory concerning objectives to be reached to get to optimal approach in water management, the current obstacles that need to be overcome, and the actions to be implemented. The Stakeholders Group Cognitive Map is defined aggregating the individual stakeholders maps. On the other hand, scientific experts working within AquaStress consortium are required to express their knowledge about water stress mitigation options and expected impacts. The Expert Group Cognitive Map is developed to collect and structure the expert knowledge. To integrate these two Cognitive Maps a fuzzy similarity measure is applied to assess the congruence between experts and stakeholders, highlighting consensus and possible conflicts. The integrated cognitive map is used as basis for the negotiation process. The integrated map summarizes the knowledge about objectives to be achieved, actions to be implemented and possible impacts. Interacting with stakeholders and experts, the objectives are translated in operational criteria, which reflect the integrated viewpoints in evaluating the actions and options efficacy. The results of evaluation process of two mitigation options, i.e. DSS implementation and Groundwater modelling, are described in this contribution.
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