Climate change and water management


This topic aims at research on local, regional and national levels. All climate change induced impacts on water management are relevant. As these impacts are often covered by socio-economic effects (e.g. decreasing water demand), it is important to consider the impacts of these effects as well.

Opportunities and challenges

On the water availability (quantity and quality) level, climate change can have the following effects:

  • Droughts: dropping river and groundwater levels and affecting water quality
  • Floods: affecting water quality and increasing surface water levels
  • Sharper and faster changes in surface water quality (water temperature, NOM, phytoplankton)
  • Seawater level rise (flood and salt intrusion in water resources)
  • Heat waves

Effects on water demand level:

  • Droughts: Balancing the water need of different sectors/stakeholders (e.g. domestic, industrial, irrigation, ecological flow, …); Consider long-term trends; less dilution within urban river systems -> higher concentration of sewage related pollutants
  • Floods: e.g. protection of water supply infrastructure, pollution of raw water

Socio-economic effects are occurring the same time as climate change and can mask climate change induced impacts on water resources:

  • Different crop choices in agriculture due to warmer climate -> different water demand
  • Decreasing water demand in most parts of Europe due to demographic changes and water-saving technology

Research and innovation demand:

  • Local studies needed on future water availability and demand
  • Resilience of local systems
  • Flood protection for wells and infrastructure
  • Use of satellite data
  • Early-warning of flood events, heat waves, changes in water quality affecting treatment and drinking water safety
  • Prevention and mitigation measures of climate change driven phenomena
  • Effect of global change on energy-water-nexus, e.g. hydro and solar power, changes in demand and availability
  • Impacts on urban areas and infrastructure, e.g. promoting urban adaptation and resilience to climate change

ARC position and activities

Climate Change is real and already happening. The water sector must be prepared to cope with a wide range of impacts, which affect multiple stakeholders. Climate Change affects different angles of the water sector and is thus part of many diverse working groups, e.g. the WssTP on Extreme Weather. Also, many national or river basin oriented working groups exist, e.g. IKSR for the river Rhine. ARC could set up a list with all relevant working groups and prioritize the most important WGs.