The Júcar River Basin, Spain
Droughts do not always occur under the same conditions, neither socio-economic nor hydrologic.
The Júcar River Basin District (JRBD), in South Eastern Spain, has an irregular hydrology, which is very characteristic of Mediterranean basins. The JRBD is one of the most vulnerable areas to drought in the Western Mediterranean region due to semi-aridity, high water consumption, hydrological variability, and environmental and water quality problems when droughts appear.
Recent major drought events occurred in 1983-1986, 1992-1995, 1998-2000, and 2005-2008. The most severe impacts concentrated on the agriculture and hydropower sectors: in case of a drought, these two sectors have lower priority for water supply, compared to urban water supply and supply to environmentally sensitive areas. The reoccurrence of drought episodes has triggered an increased use of non-conventional resources, such as reuse of wastewater or desalination of seawater, con- junctive use of surface-ground waters, purchase of water rights, and the improvement of purification treatments to deal with higher pollutants concentrations.
It is likely that the succession and impacts of dry-humid periods will increase in the future, due to increasing human pressures and climate change. Moreover, the Water Framework Directive (WFD) (EC, 2000) requirements imply that more water will be assigned to environmentally vulnerable areas.
Based on this context, the main goal of the ENHANCE project was to develop strategies to minimise the risk of drought episodes in the JRBD, and to improve resilience. This is done by enhancing existing Multi-Sectorial Partnerships (MSPs), and by assessing current and new disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures and whether they can be adopted by the MSPs.
The JRBD partnership (CHJ)
Stakeholder participation and development of partner- ships have been of great importance for the management of droughts within the JRBD. Historically, drought manage-ment has been mainly carried through infrastructure devel-opment, and existing MSPs have been developed around water supply measures. Initially, single-sectorial partner- ships were predominant, but in 1936 the JRBD Partnership (CHJ) was created, which included all major sectors of water users, as well as national, regional and local governments’ representatives. The role of this MSP has evolved over time, and nowadays the CHJ is in charge of the different aspects of water planning and management including infrastructure development, floods and droughts mitigation, protection of public water domain, and environmental objectives.
Strategies and measures for planning horizons are defined in River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) as required by the WFD. However, the diversification of interests within the CHJ revealed the need for the division of the decision-making process into several internal bodies, which still include most stakeholders. Therefore, a cluster of satellite MSPs has been created along the years to deal with the different problems existing within the Júcar RBD. This is the case of the Permanent Drought Commission (CPS), which is activated by means of a Royal Decree when an emergency drought stage is declared, until recovery of normality. The CPS is in charge of applying the DRR measures against drought de ned in the Drought Special Plan (DSP), and defining additional measures if necessary. With the support of the Drought Technical Office, the CPS assesses risks and discusses and sets the necessary measures to increase resilience and to mitigate the effects that drought might have on the water supply system. All the stakeholders within the CPS act under an equality basis, and decisions are usually made by consensus. All the participants have access to all the existing data and analysis regarding the risk and the effects of the different measures studied.
Different risk assessment tools are available for the JRBD Partnership, and some of these are used for participative decision-making, and to analyse the efficiency of the possible measures against drought. This involves the implementation of a series of models and methodologies to assess current and future risk, and are schematically displayed in Figure 15.1.
Elements considered in the risk analysis.
- Júcar River Basin District Partnership (CHJ):
- Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimantación y Medio Ambiente
- Conselleria de Agricultura, Medio Ambiente, Cambio Climático y Desarrollo Rural, Generalitat Valenciana
- Centro de estudios hidrográficos
- Agencia Estatal de Meteorología
- IIAMA (Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering)
- AQUATOOL Software DSS
- IMPREX project
- SWICCA project