Sustainability of engineered rivers in arid lands: Challenge and Response (Jurgen Schmandt, Gerald North and George Ward, editors)

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1 Sustainability of engineered rivers in arid lands: Challenge and Response (Jurgen Schmandt, Gerald North and George Ward, editors) Book description Our interdisciplinary team studies how natural and social conditions in ten arid or semi-arid river basins with thriving irrigated agriculture and growing populations will change between now and The rivers studied are: Colorado (US-Mexico), Euphrates-Tigris (Turkey, Syria, Iraq), Júcar (Spain), Limarí (Chile), Murray-Darling (Australia), Nile (ten countries), Rio Grande/Bravo (US-Mexico), São Francisco (Brazil) and Yellow (China). The physical systems of the ten rivers share important features: The mountainous headwaters (Taurus, Himalaya, Andes, Rocky Mountains, etc.) used to provide reliable river flow from glaciers, snowpack or rainfall. Hundreds of kilometers downstream the local climate is arid or semi-arid but the soil is fertile as a result of millennia of sediment accumulation. Irrigated agriculture has long taken advantage of these conditions, in the process giving birth to ancient civilizations Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and the Americas that flourished over thousands of years. Over the course of the last century, large-scale engineering has enhanced this age-old system. Dams, by-pass canals and distribution networks were built to control floods, generate electricity, increase food production and supply water to riverine cities. Changing the hydrology of the rivers brought multiple benefits to farmers, cities and the world. Yet engineered rivers in arid lands face serious challenges. Climate change is reducing timing and volume of mountain runoff. Climate variability increases frequency and severity of droughts. Rising temperature increases water evaporation. Reservoir siltation reduces volume of water storage. Fertile sediment no longer reaches agricultural land. Chemical fertilizers and urban runoff impair water quality. Overwatering increases soil salinity. Native species are suffering from reduced river flow. As these changes accumulate over time, the interactions between physical and social systems create new conditions in the river basins. Less water provided by nature, but used as we do today, will reduce food production and endanger the economic livelihood of basin populations. Ecological health further declines. Alternatively, if farmers, cities and countries learn how to use and manage water more efficiently, they may be able to maintain the economic well-being of basin residents and food security for the growing world population, important components of a sustainable future. Social conditions population, land use, water policy and management differ from river to river. To mention just one major difference: Colorado, Euphrates-Tigris, Nile, and Rio Grande/Bravo are large international rivers. Murray-Darling, São Francisco, and Yellow are large national rivers. Júcar and Limarí are small national rivers. Using a new river basin sustainability metric, developed in the introductory chapter, we evaluate the nature-society interaction in the selected basins in response to the following challenges: climate (global warming and climate variability), reservoir siltation, environmental flow, changes in population and land use, and threats to economic and food security. 1

2 Figure 1: The Rivers 7,000 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0 Length km Basin 1,000 km2 Irrigated 1,000 km2 (100,000 ha) Discharge m3/s Figure 2: River Characteristics For each river we calculate water supply and demand budgets under past, current and future conditions. In case data for constructing water budgets are not available, we provide estimates of future water supply and demand. Following quantitative and qualitative analysis of river basin futures, we evaluate response strategies for coping with increasing water scarcity. Examples include conjunctive water management, new reservoirs, rain water harvesting, advanced 2

3 irrigation practices, repair of leaking distribution systems, increased energy production, desalination and others. In the concluding chapter we summarize the technical, economic and political changes that are needed to cope with nature-imposed water scarcity. Using our sustainability metric, we assess to what extent these measures will set the river basins on the road to sustainability. We assembled the project team in The team includes an expert for each river basin and experts on the topical issues that are at the heart of our analysis. We met for two workshops. The 2014 workshop, supported by the Mitchell Foundation, reviewed current river conditions and problems. River experts received detailed information on climate change/variation, reservoir sedimentation Manuscript submission to Cambridge University Press is planned for The book is addressed to scholars and practitioners in the areas of water resources, regional economics, agriculture, water management and sustainability science. Books and articles dealing with the rivers included in our book are widely available. Loucks and Gladwell (1999) edited Sustainability Criteria for Water Resource Systems. A book-length work on sustainability of engineered rivers in arid lands does not exist. The book will be about 500 pages long. The preliminary table of contents and list of co-authors follow. 3

4 Sustainability of Engineered Rivers in Arid Lands: Challenge and Response I. Introuction Chapter 1, Sustainability of engineered rivers in arid lands, Jurgen Schmandt, Gerald North and George Ward II. Ten Rivers: Past, Present and Future Chapter 2, Nile, Lars Ribbe III. IV. Page 4 Chapter 3, Euphrates-Tigris, Aysegul Kibaroglu Chapter 4, Yellow, David Pietz Chapter 5, Murray-Darling, Daniel Connell and Tony McLeod Chapter 6, São Francisco, Antonio Magalhães and Eduardo Martins Chapter 7, Limarí, Alexandra Nauditt Chapter 8, Colorado, Michael Cohen Chapter 9, Rio Grande/Bravo, Jurgen Schmandt and George Ward Chapter 10, Júcar, José Albiac Challenge Chapter 11, Impacts of climate change and climate variation, Gerald North Chapter 12, Unrelenting reservoir sedimentation, George Ward Chapter 13, Population growth and land use changes, Steve Murdock Chapter 14, The widening gap between water supply and water demand, George Ward Chapter 15, Declining environmental flow, Stephanie Glenn Chapter 16, Endangered food security, Peter Gleick Response Chapter 17, More efficient water use, Michael Cohen Chapter 18, Water-wise irrigated agriculture, Ari Michelsen Chapter 19, Balanced basin economies, José Albiac Chapter 20, Increased hydro power, Peter Gleick Chapter 21, New data and IT systems, Lars Ribbe. Chapter 22, Inter-basin transfers, Antonio Magalhães and David Pietz

5 Chapter 23, Environmental restoration, Daniel Connell Chapter 24, Conjunctive water management, Stephanie Glenn Chapter 25, Better governance with stakeholder participation, Aysegul Kibaroglu and Jurgen Schmandt V. Conclusion Chapter 26, The road towards sustainability of engineered rivers in arid lands, All Page 5

6 List of co-authors José Albiac, Government of Aragon, Spain. Agricultural economics Michael Cohen, Pacific Institute. Geography Daniel Connell, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. Governance Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute. Engineering. Energy and Resources Aysegul Kibaraglu, MEF University, Istanbul. International relations. International Law Stephanie Glenn, Houston Advanced Research Center. Environmental engineering Antonio Magalhães, Center for Strategic Studies, Brasilia. Economics. International development Eduardo Martins, President, Funceme (Foundation for Meteorology and Water Resources, State of Ceará), Fortaleza, Brazil. Tony McLeod, Murray-Darling River Authority, Canberra. Water planning Ari Michelsen, Texas A&M University, El Paso. Agricultural and resource economics Steve Murdock, Rice University. Demographics. Sociology Alexandra Nauditt, Cologne University of Applied Science. Earth sciences Gerald North, Texas A&M University. Climatology David Pietz, University of Arizona. History. Chinese studies Lars Ribbe, Cologne University of Applied Science, Hydro informatics Jurgen Schmandt, Houston Advanced Research Center and University of Texas Austin, Water policy. Sustainability science George Ward, University of Texas Austin. Hydrology. Meteorology Page 6

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