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Interdisciplinary assessment of complex regional water systems and their future evolution: how socio-economic drivers can matter more than climate

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2014
Author Reynard Emmanuel, Bonriposi Mariano, Graefe Olivier, Homewood Christine, Huss Matthias, Kauzlaric Martina, Liniger Hanspeter, Rey Emmanuel, Rist Stephan, Schädler Bruno, Schneider Flurina, Weingartner Rolf,
Project Montanaqua: Anticiper le stress hydrique dans les Alpes - Scénarios de gestion de l'eau dans la région de Sierre-Crans-Montana (Valais).
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal WIREs Water
Page(s) 14
Title of proceedings WIREs Water
DOI 10.1002/wat2.1032


Modelling of future water systems at the regional scale is a difficult task due to the complexity of current structures (multiple competing water uses, multiple actors, formal and informal rules) both temporally and spatially. Representing this complexity in the modelling process is a challenge that can be addressed by an interdisciplinary and holistic approach. The assessment of the water system of the Crans-Montana-Sierre area (Switzerland) and its evolution until 2050 were tackled by combining glaciological, hydrogeological and hydrological measurements and modelling with the evaluation of water use through documentary, statistical and interview-based analyses. Four visions of future regional development were co-produced with a group of stakeholders and were then used as a basis for estimating future water demand. The comparison of the available water resource and the water demand at monthly time scale allowed us to conclude that for the four scenarios socioeconomic factors will impact on the future water systems more than climatic factors. An analysis of the sustainability of the current and future water systems based on four visions of regional development allowed us to identify those scenarios that will be more sustainable and that should be adopted by the decision-makers. The results were then presented to the stakeholders through five key-messages. The challenges of communicating the results in such a way with stakeholders are discussed at the end of the paper.