New model to assess urban water security

Dec 02, 2010
University of Adelaide water engineers have developed a model to estimate potential urban water supply shortfalls. Photo by Ivan Prole.

University of Adelaide water engineering researchers have developed a model to estimate potential urban water supply shortfalls under a range of climate change scenarios.

The model developed by PhD candidate Fiona Paton, with supervisors Professor Graeme Dandy and Professor Holger Maier, should help water supply managers plan for future despite the uncertainty surrounding the impacts of climate change.

"Urban water supply is closely linked with climate variables, so climate change is expected to have a major impact on urban water security," said Ms Paton. "Rainfall is obviously particularly important in determining water supply, but there is considerable uncertainty about how rainfall patterns will be affected by climate change."

The researchers have developed a method to incorporate rainfall projections under a range of possible climate change scenarios into an urban water supply model. The model makes use of multiple probability-based daily rainfall sequences combined with historical rainfall data.

"Water supply managers are struggling to revise future water plans as they seek to take into account the likely impacts of climate change on future water security," said Ms Paton.

"This is made more difficult by lack of agreement surrounding various global climate models and emissions scenarios, as well as the need to balance various conflicting objectives of water supply system planning.

"We hope this model will help water managers estimate some of the climate change effects on supply security."

In the paper 'Sensitivity of Estimated Urban Water Supply Security based on Various Global Circulation Models and Emission Scenarios', the researchers applied their new approach to Adelaide's Southern water supply system to the year 2100 in a case study including alternative water sources. This research won best paper award at the recent Engineers Australia's 'Practical Responses to Climate Change' conference.

The future Adelaide supply system includes reservoirs fed from catchments, water pumped from the River Murray, household rainwater tanks, stormwater reuse schemes and the desalination plant.

The researchers, who are all part of the eWater CRC, said that recent moves towards diversification of water sources and demand management were commendable but there was a need for a more rigorous scientific approach as further threatens supplies.

Explore further: Spain defends Canaries oil drilling plan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How California Water Supply Could Survive Warming, Growth

Jun 15, 2006

In a new report, the UC Davis authors of the most sophisticated analysis of California's water management system say the system should be able to adapt to a warmer climate and a larger population, albeit at a significant ...

Australia needs better plan for variable water future

Sep 29, 2010

The delivery of sustainable water supplies in Australia will require water managers and engineers to factor in a range of predicted variations in climate and long-term demand for water resources, according ...

Researchers look at water-energy impacts of climate change

Dec 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Climate projections for the next 50 to 100 years forecast increasingly frequent severe droughts and heat waves across the American Southwest, sinking available water levels even as rising mercury drives up ...

Afghanistan's Kabul Basin faces major water challenges

Jun 16, 2010

In the next 50 years, it is estimated that drinking water needs in the Kabul Basin of Afghanistan may increase sixfold due to population increases resulting from returning refugees. It is also likely that future water resources ...

Bushfire impact on water yields

Jan 22, 2008

While forest fires can often result in an initial increase in water runoff from catchments, it’s the forests and bush growing back that could cause future problems for water supplies by reducing stream flows.

Climate change goes underground

Aug 22, 2007

Climate change, a recent “hot topic” when studying the atmosphere, oceans, and Earth’s surface; however, the study of another important factor to this global phenomenon is still very much “underground.” ...

Recommended for you

Study shows no lead pollution in oilsands region

23 hours ago

New research from a world-renowned soil and water expert at the University of Alberta reveals that there's no atmospheric lead pollution in Alberta's oilsands region—a finding that contradicts current scientific ...

User comments : 0