The feasibility of inter-basin water transfers to manage climate risk in England

Khadem, M. and Dawson, R.J. and Walsh, C. (2021) The feasibility of inter-basin water transfers to manage climate risk in England. Climate Risk Management, 33.

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Climate change, population growth, and environmental pressures, pose challenges for water resource management. Many countries, like the UK, are projected to experience regional variation in the risk of droughts. One solution is to use inter-basin transfer (IBT) schemes to move water from where it is abundant to where it is scarce. But what are the first steps in studying the feasibility of such schemes as a solution? How can we ensure an IBT brings more resilient water future under the rapidly changing climate and not have a detrimental impact elsewhere? This paper develops and demonstrates a framework for a preliminary climate impacts assessment for IBT schemes. The framework evaluates negative hydrological and ecological impacts of IBTs to the exporting basin. A hypothetical IBT scheme, delivering water from the northeast of England to London in the southeast, is tested. Three transfer scenarios are analysed under 100 future climate scenarios generated from the driest member of UK Climate Projection 2018 (UKCP18). The framework shows there would be no ecological harm for the exporting basin under any scenario. However, the hydrological risk is sensitive to the IBT operation. Constant and low flow operation of the IBT would lead to supply deficits of up to 60% in the exporting basin by the 2080 s. Transferring larger volumes, but only in winter months, allows the IBT to meet the projected water resource deficit in London whilst not increasing hydrological risks in the northeast – even under the driest UKCP18 climate scenario.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Inter-basin transfer, Drought, Stream temperature, Water resources model, Rainfall-runoff model, Calibration
Subjects: Water > General
Divisions: Water
Depositing User: Helen Stevenson
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2021 08:33
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2021 08:33

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