Water management in times of scarcity and climate change In future, water is likely to become scarcer. How can it be optimally used in dry but intensively utilized regions of the Alps?

Lay summary
Climate change as well as societal and economic development will in future significantly modify the offer and consumption of water, and consequently fuel conflicts of interest. Dry valleys in the Alps will be particularly affected, as one has to assume that in these regions water will become even scarcer. At present, the distribution of water is generally organized at the communal level and follows historical norms and regulations. Up to now, water management was mainly guided through the demand and not the offer.

Objectives and methods
In close collaboration with local authorities and stakeholders involved in the water sector of the study area, the Crans-Montana-Sierre region in the Valais, the project aims at developing solutions required for a more sustainable and balanced management and distribution of water. Specific goals are:
- Evaluation of present and future availability of water in the Crans-Montana-Sierre region. The Plaine Morte Glacier and the water diversion systems used today will also be examined.
- Evaluation of water use by different user groups. Assessment of future water use, taking into consideration societal and economic changes. In this way, possible areas of conflict can be identified.
- Evaluation of the presently existing legal and practical organisation of water management. Development of options for a more adequate water distribution, for adapted irrigation techniques, and for coping with future challenges. The possible effects of the developed solutions on the different water uses will be assessed.

The cooperation of specialists from different disciplines and universities will help to better understand the processes in the study region and to develop new knowledge in the field of water management. The collaboration with local and regional authorities and stakeholders will contribute to developing solutions that are practicable and acceptable, and that can be implemented in other regions.