Dwindling inflows into catchment areas: A water supply disaster in the making?

phys.org | 11/29/2019 | Staff
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A study by UNSW engineers suggests we should get used to water restrictions as modeling predicts inflows into natural reservoirs are set to decrease.

The frequency of water restrictions in Australia is set to treble by the end of the century after modeling by UNSW Sydney engineers showed climate change will significantly reduce inflows into catchment areas.

Study - Co-author - Professor - Ashish - Sharma

Study co-author Professor Ashish Sharma says the recent study published in the Water Resources Research journal confirms the hypothesis of the group's past research that found that the frequent flood events that used to fill dams and catchment areas are now supplying less and less water to those areas.

"In our previous research we found that for each degree rise in temperature, you have roughly 10 to 15% reduction in the flood peak," Professor Sharma says. "This is despite the fact that with increased temperature, you store more moisture in the sky and hence cause more intense storms."

Temperatures - Soils - Lot - Water - Dams

"Why this happens is because the higher temperatures are drying out the soils faster than before. So now when it rains, a lot of the water that would have previously ended up in the dams is now being absorbed into the parched soil. And so these frequent flood events are now delivering less water to natural reservoirs."

Professor Sharma says the earlier paper speculated that the reduced flood peaks would translate into water insecurity as the demand of rising urban populations and intensive agricultural irrigation threatened to outstrip supply.

Example - Sydney - Warragamba - Dam - Sydney

"To use the example of Sydney, when Warragamba Dam was built in 1960, Sydney's population was a lot smaller, but they had designed the capacity of the dam taking into account how big the population might get.

"So Sydney's demand has been increasing, as predicted. But what they had not speculated was that the supply into the dam may decrease. While our...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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