This study presents the first continental assessment of water storage and its influence on the availability of water of the river systems of South America. Although hydraulic infrastructure has the potential to cause several impacts on river systems and the environment, their relevance in water resources systems is irrefutable. The human services that dams and reservoirs provide to society, e.g., hydroelectricity, water supply, irrigation, or flood control, are vital services that society requires to develop. Despite this fact, the interactions of dams and reservoirs in the river systems of South America have not been explored from a hydrological perspective. In this study, we present the first assessment of the potential effects of water storage at a basin scale in South America. For this purpose, first we present an analysis of the current conditions and the influence of water storage in the basins of the continent. Then, we estimate the potential water availability of each basin, to evaluate the role of water storage in the availability of water in the continent. Our findings indicate that the ‘Colorado’ and ‘Negro’ basins in Argentina are the most influenced by water storage in the continent. Moreover, our results suggest that reservoirs improve the potential water availability capacity, particularly in the southern basins of the continent. With this study, we expect to provide helpful insights about the current interactions of reservoirs with the river systems of the continent.
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