Special Issue "Application of the Systems Approach to the Management of Complex Water Systems"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Resources Management, Policy and Governance".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Slobodan P. Simonovic
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Western Ontario London, ON N6A 5B9, Canada
Interests: water management; systems analysis; complexity; risk; resilience; hydrology
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

During the past five decades we have witnessed a tremendous evolution in water resource systems management. Three of the characteristics of this evolution should be noted in particular.

First, the application of the systems approach to complex water management problems has been established as one of the most important advances in the field of water resource management. A primary emphasis of systems analysis in water resource management is on providing an improved basis for decision-making. A large number of analytical, computer-based tools, from simulation and optimization to multi-objective analysis, are available for formulating, analyzing and solving water resource planning, design and operational problems.

Second, the past five decades have brought a remarkable transformation of attitude in the water resource management community towards environmental concerns, and action to address these concerns. Water, together with land and air, is under significant pressure from a growing population, changing climate and the associated needs for food production and rapid urbanization.

Third, applying the principles of sustainability to water resource decision-making requires major changes in the objectives on which decisions are based, and an understanding of the complicated inter-relationships between existing ecological, economic and social factors. To make decisions designed to produce sustainable water resources also calls for a change in procedural policies and implementation.

Today, more than ever, we need appropriate tools that can assist in dealing with the difficulties introduced by the increase in the complexity of water resource problems, consideration of environmental impacts and the introduction of principles of sustainability. The systems approach is one such tool. This Special Issue offers an opportunity to review numerous applications of the systems approach to water resource management and draw lessons from worldwide experience relevant to the solution of future water problems.

Prof. Dr. Slobodan P. Simonovic
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Water resource management
  • Systems analysis
  • Sustainability
  • Complexity
  • Climate change
  • Uncertainty
  • Risk
  • Resilience
  • Decision support

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Socio-Hydrology: A New Understanding to Unite or a New Science to Divide?
Water 2020, 12(7), 1941; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12071941 - 08 Jul 2020
Abstract
The socio-hydrology community has been very successful in promoting the need for taking the human factor into account in the mainstream hydrology literature since 2012. However, the interest in studying and modeling human-water systems is not new and pre-existed the post-2012 socio-hydrology. So, [...] Read more.
The socio-hydrology community has been very successful in promoting the need for taking the human factor into account in the mainstream hydrology literature since 2012. However, the interest in studying and modeling human-water systems is not new and pre-existed the post-2012 socio-hydrology. So, it is critical to ask what socio-hydrology has been able to offer that would have been unachievable using the existing methods, tools, and analysis frameworks. Thus far, the socio-hydrology studies show a strong overlap with what has already been in the literature, especially in the water resources systems and coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) areas. Nevertheless, the work in these areas has been generally dismissed by the socio-hydrology literature. This paper overviews some of the general concerns about originality, practicality, and contributions of socio-hydrology. It is argued that while in theory, a common sense about the need for considering humans as an integral component of water resources systems models can strengthen our coupled human-water systems research, the current approaches and trends in socio-hydrology can make this interest area less inclusive and interdisciplinary. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Water Resource Systems Analysis for Water Scarcity Management: The Thames Water Case Study
Water 2020, 12(6), 1761; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061761 - 20 Jun 2020
Abstract
Optimisation tools are a practical solution to problems involving the complex and interdependent constituents of water resource systems and offer the opportunity to engage with practitioners as an integral part of the optimisation process. A multiobjective genetic algorithm is employed in conjunction with [...] Read more.
Optimisation tools are a practical solution to problems involving the complex and interdependent constituents of water resource systems and offer the opportunity to engage with practitioners as an integral part of the optimisation process. A multiobjective genetic algorithm is employed in conjunction with a detailed water resource model to optimise the “Lower Thames Control Diagram”, a set of control curves subject to a large number of constraints. The Diagram is used to regulate abstraction of water for the public drinking water supply for London, UK, and to maintain downstream environmental and navigational flows. The optimisation is undertaken with the aim of increasing the amount of water that can be supplied (deployable output) through solely operational changes. A significant improvement of 33 Ml/day (1% or £59.4 million of equivalent investment in alternative resources) of deployable output was achieved through the optimisation, improving the performance of the system whilst maintaining the level of service constraints without negatively impacting on the amount of water released downstream. A further 0.2% (£11.9 million equivalent) was found to be realisable through an additional low-cost intervention. A more realistic comparison of solutions indicated even larger savings for the utility, as the baseline solution did not satisfy the basic problem constraints. The optimised configuration of the Lower Thames Control Diagram was adopted by the water utility and the environmental regulators and is currently in use. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Systems Approach to Municipal Water Portfolio Security: A Case Study of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area
Water 2020, 12(6), 1663; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061663 - 10 Jun 2020
Abstract
We present a rigorous quantitative, systems-based model to measure a municipality’s water portfolio security using four objectives: Sustainability, Resilience, Vulnerability, and Cost (SRVC). Water engineers and planners can operationalize this simple model using readily available data to capture dimensions of water security that [...] Read more.
We present a rigorous quantitative, systems-based model to measure a municipality’s water portfolio security using four objectives: Sustainability, Resilience, Vulnerability, and Cost (SRVC). Water engineers and planners can operationalize this simple model using readily available data to capture dimensions of water security that go far beyond typical reliability and cost analysis. We implement this model for the Phoenix Metropolitan Area under several scenarios to assess multi-objective water security outcomes at the municipal-level and metropolitan area-level to water shocks and drought. We find the benefits of adaptive water security policies are dependent on a municipality’s predominant water source, calling for a variegated approach to water security planning across a tightly interrelated metropolitan area. Additionally, we find little correlation between sustainability, resilience, and vulnerability versus cost. Therefore, municipalities can enhance water security along cost-neutral, adaptive policy pathways. Residential water conservation and upstream flow augmentation are cost-effective policies to improve water security that also improve sustainability, resilience, and vulnerability and are adequate adaptations to a short-term Colorado River shortage. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area’s resilience to drought is higher than that of any of its constituent municipalities, underscoring the benefits of coordinated water planning at the metropolitan area-level. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Developing a Risk-Based Consensus-Based Decision-Support System Model for Selection of the Desirable Urban Water Strategy: Kashafroud Watershed Study
Water 2020, 12(5), 1305; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051305 - 05 May 2020
Abstract
In recent years, complexities related to a variety of sustainable development criteria and several preferences of stakeholders have caused a serious challenge for selecting the more desirable urban water strategy within watershed. In addition, stakeholders might have several risk attitudes depending on the [...] Read more.
In recent years, complexities related to a variety of sustainable development criteria and several preferences of stakeholders have caused a serious challenge for selecting the more desirable urban water strategy within watershed. In addition, stakeholders might have several risk attitudes depending on the number of criteria satisfied by water strategies. Accordingly, a risk-based consensus-based group decision-support system model is proposed for choosing the more desirable water strategy, using the external modified ordered weighted averaging (EMOWA) and internal modified ordered weighted averaging (IMOWA) operators. The operators calculate the scores of strategies in several risk-taking attitudes of group decision-making, considering the sustainable development criteria. Additionally, the consensus-seeking phase is considered using a risk-based weighted Minkowski’s method. This model is successfully implemented for the Kashafroud urban watershed in Iran, for selecting the more desirable urban water strategy in 2040. Accordingly, in the completely risk-averse viewpoint, the stakeholders select the combined supply-demand management strategy satisfying all of the criteria. In contrast, in the completely risk-prone standpoint, the stakeholders choose the demand management strategy satisfying at least one criterion. Developing the risk-based consensus-based group decision-support system model is suggested for integrated urban watershed management for selecting the more desirable strategy, satisfying the sustainable development criteria. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Risk and Resilience: A Case of Perception versus Reality in Flood Management
Water 2020, 12(5), 1254; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051254 - 28 Apr 2020
Abstract
Canada’s vast regions are reacting to climate change in uncertain ways. Understanding of local disaster risks and knowledge of underlying causes for negative impacts of disasters are critical factors to working toward a resilient environment across the social, economic, and the built sectors. [...] Read more.
Canada’s vast regions are reacting to climate change in uncertain ways. Understanding of local disaster risks and knowledge of underlying causes for negative impacts of disasters are critical factors to working toward a resilient environment across the social, economic, and the built sectors. Historically, floods have caused more economical and social damage around the world than other types of natural hazards. Since the 1900s, the most frequent hazards in Canada have been floods, wildfire, drought, and extreme cold, in terms of economic damage. The recent flood events in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, Alberta, and Manitoba have raised compelling concerns. These include should communities be educated with useful knowledge on hazard risk and resilience so they would be interested in the discussion on the vital role they can play in building resilience in their communities. Increasing awareness that perceived risk can be very different from the real threat is the motivation behind this study. The main objectives of this study include identifying and quantifying the gap between people’s perception of exposure and susceptibility to the risk and a lack of coping capacity and objective assessment of risk and resilience, as well as estimating an integrated measure of disaster resilience in a community. The proposed method has been applied to floods as an example, using actual data on the geomorphology of the study area, including terrain and low lying regions. It is hoped that the study will encourage a broader debate if a unified strategy for disaster resilience would be feasible and beneficial in Canada. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Systems Approach to Management of Water Resources—Toward Performance Based Water Resources Engineering
Water 2020, 12(4), 1208; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041208 - 24 Apr 2020
Abstract
Global change, that results from population growth, global warming and land use change (especially rapid urbanization), is directly affecting the complexity of water resources management problems and the uncertainty to which they are exposed. Both, the complexity and the uncertainty, are the result [...] Read more.
Global change, that results from population growth, global warming and land use change (especially rapid urbanization), is directly affecting the complexity of water resources management problems and the uncertainty to which they are exposed. Both, the complexity and the uncertainty, are the result of dynamic interactions between multiple system elements within three major systems: (i) the physical environment; (ii) the social environment; and (iii) the constructed infrastructure environment including pipes, roads, bridges, buildings, and other components. Recent trends in dealing with complex water resources systems include consideration of the whole region being affected, explicit incorporation of all costs and benefits, development of a large number of alternative solutions, and the active (early) involvement of all stakeholders in the decision-making. Systems approaches based on simulation, optimization, and multi-objective analyses, in deterministic, stochastic and fuzzy forms, have demonstrated in the last half of last century, a great success in supporting effective water resources management. This paper explores the future opportunities that will utilize advancements in systems theory that might transform management of water resources on a broader scale. The paper presents performance-based water resources engineering as a methodological framework to extend the role of the systems approach in improved sustainable water resources management under changing conditions (with special consideration given to rapid climate destabilization). An illustrative example of a water supply network management under changing conditions is used to convey the basic principles of performance-based water resources engineering methodology. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Analyzing the Effectiveness of a Multi-Purpose Dam Using a System Dynamics Model
Water 2020, 12(4), 1062; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041062 - 08 Apr 2020
Abstract
The increasing frequency of extreme droughts and flash floods in recent years due to climate change has increased the interest in sustainable water use and efficient water resource management. Because the water resource sector is closely related to human activities and affected by [...] Read more.
The increasing frequency of extreme droughts and flash floods in recent years due to climate change has increased the interest in sustainable water use and efficient water resource management. Because the water resource sector is closely related to human activities and affected by interactions between the humanities and social sciences, there is a need for interdisciplinary research that can consider various elements, such as society and the economy. This study elucidates relationships within the social and hydrological systems and quantitatively analyzes the effects of a multi-purpose dam on the target society using a system dynamics model. A causal loop was used to identify causal relationships between the social and hydrological components of the target area, and a simulation model was constructed using the system dynamics technique. Additionally, climate change and socio-economic scenarios were applied to analyze the future effects of the multi-purpose dam on population change, the regional economy, water use, and flood damage prevention in the target area. The model proved reliable in predicting socio-economic changes in the target area and can be used to make decisions about efficient water resource management and water-resource-related facility planning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Applying the Systems Approach to Decompose the SuDS Decision-Making Process for Appropriate Hydrologic Model Selection
Water 2020, 12(3), 632; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030632 - 26 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) have gained popularity over the last few decades as an effective and optimal solution for urban drainage systems to cope with continuous population growth and urban sprawl. A SuDS provides not only resilience to pluvial flooding but also [...] Read more.
Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) have gained popularity over the last few decades as an effective and optimal solution for urban drainage systems to cope with continuous population growth and urban sprawl. A SuDS provides not only resilience to pluvial flooding but also multiple other benefits, ranging from amenity improvement to enhanced ecological and social well-being. SuDS modelling is used as a tool to understand these complex interactions and to inform decision makers. Major developments in SuDS modelling techniques have occurred in the last decade, with advancement from simple lumped or conceptual models to very complex fully distributed tools. Several software packages have been developed specifically to support planning and implementation of SuDS. These often require extensive amounts of data and calibration to reach an acceptable level of accuracy. However, in many cases, simple models may fulfil the aims of a stakeholder if its priorities are well understood. This work implements the soft system engineering and Analytic Network Process (ANP) approaches in a methodological framework to improve the understanding of the stakeholders within the SuDS system and their key priorities, which leads to selecting the appropriate modelling technique according to the end-use application. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Assessing Aquifer Water Level and Salinity for a Managed Artificial Recharge Site Using Reclaimed Water
Water 2020, 12(2), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020341 - 25 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study was carried out to examine the impact of an artificial recharge site on groundwater level and salinity using treated domestic wastewater for the Korba aquifer (north eastern Tunisia). The site is located in a semi-arid region affected by seawater intrusion, inducing [...] Read more.
This study was carried out to examine the impact of an artificial recharge site on groundwater level and salinity using treated domestic wastewater for the Korba aquifer (north eastern Tunisia). The site is located in a semi-arid region affected by seawater intrusion, inducing an increase in groundwater salinity. Investigation of the subsurface enabled the identification of suitable areas for aquifer recharge mainly composed of sand formations. Groundwater flow and solute transport models (MODFLOW and MT3DMS) were then setup and calibrated for steady and transient states from 1971 to 2005 and used to assess the impact of the artificial recharge site. Results showed that artificial recharge, with a rate of 1500 m3/day and a salinity of 3.3 g/L, could produce a recovery in groundwater level by up to 2.7 m and a reduction in groundwater salinity by as much as 5.7 g/L over an extended simulation period. Groundwater monitoring for 2007–2014, used for model validation, allowed one to confirm that the effective recharge, reaching the water table, is less than the planned values. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
System Dynamics Approach for Assessing the Behaviour of the Lim Reservoir System (Serbia) under Changing Climate Conditions
Water 2019, 11(8), 1620; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11081620 - 06 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Investigating the impact of climate change on the management of a complex multipurpose water system is a critical issue. The presented study focuses on different steps of the climate change impact analysis process: (i) Use of three regional climate models (RCMs), (ii) use [...] Read more.
Investigating the impact of climate change on the management of a complex multipurpose water system is a critical issue. The presented study focuses on different steps of the climate change impact analysis process: (i) Use of three regional climate models (RCMs), (ii) use of four bias correction methods (BCMs), (iii) use of three concentration scenarios (CSs), (iv) use of two model averaging procedures, (v) use of the hydrological model and (vi) use of the system dynamics simulation model (SDSM). The analyses are performed for a future period, from 2006 to 2055 and the reference period, from 1971 to 2000. As a case study area, the Lim water system in Serbia (southeast Europe) is used. The Lim river system consists of four hydraulically connected reservoirs (Uvac, Kokin Brod, Radojnja, Potpec) with a primary purpose of hydropower generation. The results of the climate change impact analyses indicate change in the future hydropower generation at the annual level from −3.5% to +17.9%. The change has a seasonal variation with an increase for the winter season up to +20.3% and decrease for the summer season up to −33.6%. Furthermore, the study analyzes the uncertainty in the SDSM outputs introduced by different steps of the modelling process. The most dominant source of uncertainty in power production is the choice of BCMs (54%), followed by the selection of RCMs (41%). The least significant source of uncertainty is the choice of CSs (6%). The uncertainty in the inflows and outflows is equally dominated by the choice of BCM (49%) and RCM (45%). Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Uncertainty Quantification in Water Resource Systems Modeling: Case Studies from India
Water 2020, 12(6), 1793; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061793 - 23 Jun 2020
Abstract
Regional water resource modelling is important for evaluating system performance by analyzing the reliability, resilience and vulnerability criteria of the system. In water resource systems modelling, several uncertainties abound, including data inadequacy and errors, modeling inaccuracy, lack of knowledge, imprecision, inexactness, randomness of [...] Read more.
Regional water resource modelling is important for evaluating system performance by analyzing the reliability, resilience and vulnerability criteria of the system. In water resource systems modelling, several uncertainties abound, including data inadequacy and errors, modeling inaccuracy, lack of knowledge, imprecision, inexactness, randomness of natural phenomena, and operational variability, in addition to challenges such as growing population, increasing water demands, diminishing water sources and climate change. Recent advances in modelling techniques along with high computational capabilities have facilitated rapid progress in this area. In India, several studies have been carried out to understand and quantify uncertainties in various basins, enumerate large temporal and regional mismatches between water availability and demands, and project likely changes due to warming. A comprehensive review of uncertainties in water resource modelling from an Indian perspective is yet to be done. In this work, we aim to appraise the quantification of uncertainties in systems modelling in India and discuss various water resource management and operation models. Basic formulation of models for probabilistic, fuzzy and grey/inexact simulation, optimization, and multi-objective analyses to water resource design, planning and operations are presented. We further discuss challenges in modelling uncertainties, missing links in integrated systems approach, along with directions for future. Full article
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Open AccessReview
CHNS Modeling for Study and Management of Human–Water Interactions at Multiple Scales
Water 2020, 12(6), 1699; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061699 - 14 Jun 2020
Abstract
This paper presents basic definitions and challenges/opportunities from different perspectives to study and control water cycle impacts on society and vice versa. The wider and increased interactions and their consequences such as global warming and climate change, and the role of complex institutional- [...] Read more.
This paper presents basic definitions and challenges/opportunities from different perspectives to study and control water cycle impacts on society and vice versa. The wider and increased interactions and their consequences such as global warming and climate change, and the role of complex institutional- and governance-related socioeconomic-environmental issues bring forth new challenges. Hydrology and integrated water resources management (IWRM from the viewpoint of an engineering planner) do not exclude in their scopes the study of the impact of changes in global hydrology from societal actions and their feedback effects on the local/global hydrology. However, it is useful to have unique emphasis through specialized fields such as hydrosociology (including the society in planning water projects, from the viewpoint of the humanities) and sociohydrology (recognizing the large-scale impacts society has on hydrology, from the viewpoint of science). Global hydrological models have been developed for large-scale hydrology with few parameters to calibrate at local scale, and integrated assessment models have been developed for multiple sectors including water. It is important not to do these studies with a silo mindset, as problems in water and society require highly interdisciplinary skills, but flexibility and acceptance of diverse views will progress these studies and their usefulness to society. To deal with complexities in water and society, systems modeling is likely the only practical approach and is the viewpoint of researchers using coupled human–natural systems (CHNS) models. The focus and the novelty in this paper is to clarify some of these challenges faced in CHNS modeling, such as spatiotemporal scale variations, scaling issues, institutional issues, and suggestions for appropriate mathematical tools for dealing with these issues. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Water Footprint Review of Italian Wine: Drivers, Barriers, and Practices for Sustainable Stewardship
Water 2020, 12(2), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020369 - 29 Jan 2020
Abstract
Wine constitutes the dominant Italian agricultural product with respect to both production quantity and economic value. Italy is the top wine producer worldwide in terms of volume and the second one below France in terms of national income. As the Italian agricultural production [...] Read more.
Wine constitutes the dominant Italian agricultural product with respect to both production quantity and economic value. Italy is the top wine producer worldwide in terms of volume and the second one below France in terms of national income. As the Italian agricultural production accounts for 85% of the national freshwater appropriation, the country’s agricultural sector strains freshwater resources, especially in the central and southern regions, which constitute important winemaking areas in terms of quantity and quality. To this end, we first perform a review of the existing research efforts on wine water footprint assessment to investigate the water dynamics of wine production in Italy compared to the rest of the world. The results indicate a prevalence of studies on the water footprint of Italian wine, emphasising the need for deeper research on the sector’s water efficiency. Then, we aim at exploring the major drivers, barriers, and good practises for systematic water stewardship in the Italian winemaking industry, considering the product and territorial characteristics. This research is anticipated to contribute towards providing insights for practitioners in the Italian wine sector to develop water-friendly corporate schemes for enhancing the added value of their products. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessCommentary
From Analyses to Implementation and Innovation
Water 2020, 12(4), 974; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12040974 - 30 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Reviews of the water resource systems planning and management literature show considerable interest in methodological issues and less so in implementation experiences. This paper offers some thoughts on the use of our analysis tools in the political environment where water management decisions are [...] Read more.
Reviews of the water resource systems planning and management literature show considerable interest in methodological issues and less so in implementation experiences. This paper offers some thoughts on the use of our analysis tools in the political environment where water management decisions are typically made. This paper also addresses the challenge of going beyond analysis and synthesis to innovation. How can we extend our modeling methods so as to help ourselves become more creative in the identification of potentially improved infrastructure design and/or operating policies, and even of institutional changes, that we have otherwise not considered or thought of? Full article
Open AccessBook Review
Transboundary Hydro-Governance: From Conflict to Shared Management: Book Review. Written by Jacques Ganoulis and Jean Fried. Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2018, 222 pages. ISBN 978-3-319-78624-7; eBook ISBN 978-3-319-78625-4
Water 2019, 11(10), 2011; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102011 - 27 Sep 2019
Abstract
This book came as a support of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) activities on the International Shared Aquifer Resources Management (ISARM) project launched in the year 2000, with the goal of developing wise practices and guidance tools for the shared management of [...] Read more.
This book came as a support of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) activities on the International Shared Aquifer Resources Management (ISARM) project launched in the year 2000, with the goal of developing wise practices and guidance tools for the shared management of groundwater resources and to contribute to the multifaceted efforts required for global water cooperation [...] Full article
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