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Open AccessArticle

The Water-Saving Strategies Assessment (WSSA) Framework: An Application for the Urmia Lake Restoration Program

1
Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe University Frankfurt, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2
Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, 6708PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
3
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland
4
Water Systems and Global Change Group, Wageningen University, 6708PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
5
Nimab Toseh Consulting Company, 1473998756 Tehran, Iran
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(10), 2789; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102789
Received: 3 September 2020 / Revised: 29 September 2020 / Accepted: 30 September 2020 / Published: 8 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Development of Lakes and Reservoirs)
Increases in water demand often result in unsustainable water use, leaving insufficient amounts of water for the environment. Therefore, water-saving strategies have been introduced to the environmental policy agenda in many (semi)-arid regions. As many such interventions failed to reach their objectives, a comprehensive tool is needed to assess them. We introduced a constructive framework to assess the proposed strategies by estimating five key components of the water balance in an area: (1) Demand; (2) Availability; (3) Withdrawal; (4) Depletion and (5) Outflow. The framework was applied to assess the Urmia Lake Restoration Program (ULRP) which aimed to increase the basin outflow to the lake to reach 3.1 × 109 m3 yr−1. Results suggested that ULRP could help to increase the Outflow by up to 57%. However, successful implementation of the ULRP was foreseen to be impeded because of three main reasons: (i) decreasing return flows; (ii) increased Depletion; (iii) the impact of climate change. Decreasing return flows and increasing Depletion were expected due to the introduction of technologies that increase irrigation efficiency, while climate change could decrease future water availability by an estimated 3–15%. We suggest that to reach the intervention target, strategies need to focus on reducing water depletion rather than water withdrawals. The framework can be used to comprehensively assess water-saving strategies, particularly in water-stressed basins. View Full-Text
Keywords: water-saving strategies assessment framework; climate change; rebound effect; Urmia Lake; water resources management; water governance; irrigation efficiency water-saving strategies assessment framework; climate change; rebound effect; Urmia Lake; water resources management; water governance; irrigation efficiency
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Shadkam, S.; van Oel, P.; Kabat, P.; Roozbahani, A.; Ludwig, F. The Water-Saving Strategies Assessment (WSSA) Framework: An Application for the Urmia Lake Restoration Program. Water 2020, 12, 2789.

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