Three Challenges to Keep Hydrologists and Planners Busy for Another Decade
7 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2018
Date Written: September 18, 2018
South Africa’s long range water resource planning models have proven to be remarkably accurate and provided empirically robust indications of likely trends and advisable approaches. It remains unclear however whether they deal effectively with non-stationarity and potential climate change. And, unfortunately, the recommendations derived from them have often been ignored. Current water restrictions in both Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay could have been mitigated if they had been followed. Gauteng and the Integrated Vaal River System region will be at risk of similar restrictions if there is a dry period between now and 2026. This presents three, related, challenges for hydrology. From a technical perspective, how do we respond to non-stationarity, the “variability of variability”, to address ‘normal’ climate variability and reflect the slower underlying processes of climate change? What can be done from an operational perspective to translate model outputs into decision support tools that water managers actually use? And, related to this, how do we ensure that political leaders and the public more broadly understand, support and use our work?
Keywords: hydrology, water resource planning, demand management, stationarity, climate change, south africa, modelling, decision support
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