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DROUGHT MANAGEMENT IN SOUTH EAST ENGLAND: AN AGENT-BASED MODELLING EXAMINATION

IWRA World Water Congress 2003 Madrid Spain
IWRA WWC2003 - default topic
Author(s): Cindy WARWICK & Thomas E. DOWNING

Cindy WARWICK1 & Thomas E. DOWNING2
1 - Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford 1a Mansfield Road, Oxford, United Kingdom OX1 3SZ +44-1865-282292 (phone) +44-1865-281181 (fax) cindy.warwick@eci.ox.ac.uk
2 – Stockholm Environment Institute Oxford Office 10B Littlegate Street, Oxford, United Kingdom OX1 1QT +44-1865-202070 (phone) +44-1865-202080 (fax) tom.downing@sei.se


Article:

Abstract

The last drought experienced in the UK occurred between 1995 and 1997. In South East England this was experienced as the most severe groundwater drought since records began. This drought prompted a government call for better drought planning on the part of the privatised water service companies. The overarching question being addressed by this paper is ‘what is the effectiveness of the new system of drought planning and the resilience of current planning strategies to changing patterns of demand and climate?’ This question relates to the climate and demand pressures acting upon the water resources management system and their current impacts on the supply demand balance, the natural environment and the profitability of the privatised water sector. The question focuses on how individuals (as water consumers) and organisations (through policy development and implementation) respond to these pressures. The paper will examine the sufficiency of the response and resistance to successful drought management.

Research into climate risk and drought management in South East England has been undertaken through two European Framework 5 projects SIRCH (Societal and Institutional Responses to Climate Change and Climatic Hazards) and FIRMA (Freshwater Integrated Resource Management with Agents). This paper draws from these two projects focusing on the use of agent-based modelling to explore institutional drought management and household consumption patterns under different climate change scenarios.

Agent based programming can be distinguished from procedural programming in its explicit representation of stakeholders in the modelling code. This leads to the close involvement of stakeholders in model building and validation to ensure that agents appropriately represent stakeholder behaviours. Agent-based modelling process is used in the project not just to produce a final model but as a forum for social learning by sharing viewpoints between stakeholders and testing system perceptions.

This paper gives a brief outline of the issues, institutions and stakeholders involved in drought management in the UK, describes the agent-based methodologies used and discusses findings related to: agent-based modelling; climate and demand uncertainty; and water resources management.

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