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Integrated economic-hydrologic analysis of policy responses to promote sustainable water use under changing climatic conditions

Water is a vital resource, but also a critical limiting factor for economic and social development in many parts of the world. In Spain, as in many other arid and semi-arid regions affected by drought and wide climate variability, irrigated agriculture is responsible for most consumptive water use and plays an important role in sustaining rural livelihoods.

David Purkey / Published on 2 September 2011

Blanco-Gutiérrez, I., C. Varela-Ortega, D. Purkey (2011). Integrated economic-hydrologic analysis of policy responses to promote sustainable water use under changing climatic conditions. Paper presented at the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE) 2011 Congress, Change and Uncertainty: Challenges for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Zurich, Switzerland, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2011.

Historically, publicly funded irrigation development plans promoted economic growth in agrarian Spain, but they also increased environmental damage and led to excessive and inefficient exploitation of water resources. Currently, water policies in Spain focus on rehabilitating and improving the efficiency of irrigation systems, and are moving from technocratic towards integrated water management strategies driven by the European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD).

This study analyzes the effects of national and European water policies under normal and dry climate conditions, using a novel hydro-economic model based on the integration of a multiscale economic optimization model and a hydrology water management simulation model built in WEAP. Application of the model was carried out in the Middle Guadiana basin, a surface-irrigated area of about 29,000 km2 in the southwestern Iberian Peninsula.

Balancing the trade-offs between agricultural production and nature conservation is one of the major tasks that face policy makers in Spain, and especially in the Guadiana Basin. This paper contributes to the debate by providing an integrated economic-hydrologic modeling framework that captures the dynamics and outcomes of human-hydrological interactions, from farm-level to river-basin levels.

Download the paper (PDF, 600kb)

SEI author

David Purkey

Centre Director

SEI Latin America

Topics and subtopics
Water : Water resources, Planning and modelling
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