Operational resilience of reservoirs to climate change, agricultural demand, and tourism: A case study from Sardinia

TitleOperational resilience of reservoirs to climate change, agricultural demand, and tourism: A case study from Sardinia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsMereu, S, Sušnik, J, Trabucco, A, Daccache, A, Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia, L, Renoldi, S, Virdis, A, Savić, D, Assimacopoulos, D
JournalScience of The Total Environment

Many (semi-) arid locations globally, and particularly islands, rely heavily on reservoirs for water supply. Some reservoirs are particularly vulnerable to climate and development changes (e.g. population change, tourist growth, hydropower demands). Irregularities and uncertainties in the fluvial regime associated with climate change and the continuous increase inwater demand by different sectorswill add newchallenges to themanagement and to the resilience of these reservoirs. The resilience of vulnerable reservoirsmust be studied in detail to prepare for andmitigate potential impacts of these changes. In this paper, a reservoir balancemodel is developed and presented for the Pedra e’ Othoni reservoir in Sardinia, Italy, to assess resilience to climate and development changes. Themodel was first calibrated and validated, then forced with extensive ensemble climate data for representative concentration pathways (RCPs) 4.5 and 8.5, agricultural data, andwith four socio-economic development scenarios. Future projections show a reduction in annual reservoir inflow and an increase in demand, mainly in the agricultural sector. Under no scenario is reservoir resilience significantly affected, the reservoir always achieves refill. However, this occurs at the partial expenses of hydropower productionwith implications for the production of renewable energy. There is also the possibility of conflict between the agricultural sector and hydropower sector for diminishing water supply. Pedra e’ Othoni reservoir shows good resilience to future change mostly because of the disproportionately large basin feeding it. However this is not the case of other Sardinian
reservoirs and hence a detailed resilience assessment of all reservoirs is needed,where development plans
should carefully account for the trade-offs and potential conflicts among sectors. For Sardinia, the option of physical connection between reservoirs is available, as are alternative water supply measures. Those reservoirs at risk to future change should be identified, and mitigating measures investigated.