We evaluated different management alternatives to enhance potential water availability for agriculture under climate change scenarios. The management goal involved maximizing potential water availability, understood as the maximum volume of water supplied at a certain point of the river network that satisfies a defined demand, and taking into account specified reliability requirements. We focused on potential water availability for agriculture and assumed two types of demands: urban supply and irrigation. If potential water availability was not enough to satisfy all irrigation demands, management measures were applied aiming at achieving a compromise solution between resources and demands. The methodological approach consisted of estimation and comparison of runoff for current and future period under climate change effects, calculation of water availability changes due to changes in runoff, and evaluation of the adaptation choices that can modify the distribution of water availability, under climate change. Adaptation choices include modifying water allocation to agriculture, increasing the reservoir storage capacity, improving the efficiency of urban water use, and modifying water allocation to environmental flows. These management measures were evaluated at the desired points of the river network by applying the Water Availability and Adaptation Policy Analysis (WAAPA) model. We simulated the behavior of a set of reservoirs that supply water for a set of prioritized demands, complying with specified ecological flows and accounting for evaporation losses. We applied the methodology in six representative basins of southern Europe: Duero-Douro, Ebro, Guadalquivir, Po, Maritsa-Evros, and Struma-Strymon. While in some basins, such as the Ebro or Struma-Strymon, measures can significantly increase water availability and compensate for a fraction of water scarcity due to climate change, in other basins, like the Guadalquivir, water availability cannot be enhanced by applying the management measures analyzed, and irrigation water use will have to be reduced.
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