A Robustness Assessment Methodology for Water Resources Planning under Severe Uncertainty: Based on Info-Gap Decision Theory
Korteling, Brett Allan
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Creative Commons Licence - Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
Water resources managers are required to develop comprehensive water resource plans based on severely uncertain information of the effects of climate change on local hydrology and future socio-economic changes to localised demand. In England and Wales, current water resource planning methodologies include a headroom estimation process separate from water resources simulation modelling. This process quantifies uncertainty based on only one point of an assumed range of deviations from the expected climate and projected demand 25 years into the future. The research presented herein addresses this problem by developing an integrated the Water Resources Planning Robustness Assessment (WRP-RA) method based on Information-Gap Decision Theory (IGDT) to quantitatively assess the robustness of various supply side and demand side management options over a broad range of plausible futures. Findings show that beyond the uncertainty range explored with the headroom method, a preference reversal can occur, i.e. some management strategies that underperform at lower uncertainties, outperform at higher levels of uncertainty. Also, some management strategies that perform relatively well within the headroom range of uncertainty, fail just beyond this range. Additionally, this thesis demonstrates that when 50% or more of the population adopts demand side management in the form of efficiency related measures and/or innovative options such as rainwater collection and/or greywater reuse, the robustness of a management strategy can be greatly improved as can its ability to recover after a drought episode. The use of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis shifts the focus away from reservoir expansion options and large-scale river abstractions that perform best in regards to water availability, to strategies that include innovative demand side management actions of rainwater collection and greywater reuse as well efficiency measures along with more traditional supply-side schemes. Therefore, this thesis illustrates how the WRP-RA can offer a comprehensive picture of the relative robustness of management strategies to more extreme supply/demand futures. The knowledge of which options and collections of options perform better in response to higher demands and lower supplies offers insight into more secure long term investment strategies.
University of Exeter Climate Change and Water Futures Scholarship
PhD in Geography