Infrastructure sufficiency in meeting water demand under climate-induced socio-hydrological transition in the urbanizing Capibaribe River basin – Brazil

Publicado en Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, v. 11(3)

Ribeiro-Neto, A., Scott, C.A., de-Araujo-Lima, E., Montenegro, S.M.G.L. and Cirilo, J.A.

Año de publicación 2014
  • Department of Civil Engineering, Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil
  • School of Geography & Development and Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA
  • Campus Professora Cinobelina Elvas, Federal University of Piauí, Bom Jesus, Brazil
  • Academic Center of Agreste, Federal University of Pernambuco, Caruaru, Brazil


Proyecto CRN3056


Water availability for a range of human uses will increasingly be affected by climate change, especially in the arid and semiarid tropics. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the infrastructure sufficiency in meeting water demand under climate-induced socio-hydrological transition in the Capibaribe River basin (CRB). The basin has experienced spatial and sectoral (agriculture-to-urban) reconfiguration of water demands. Human settlements that were once dispersed, relying on intermittent sources of surface water, are now larger and more spatially concentrated, which increases water-scarcity effects. Based on the application of linked hydrologic and water-resources models using precipitation and temperature projections of the IPCC SRES (Special Report: Emissions Scenarios) A1B scenario, a reduction in rainfall of 26.0% translated to streamflow reduction of 60.0%. We used simulations from four members of the HadCM3 (UK Met Office Hadley Centre) perturbed physics ensemble, in which a single model structure is used and perturbations are introduced to the physical parameterization schemes in the model (Chou et al., 2012). We considered that the change of the water availability in the basin in the future scenarios must drive the water management and the development of adaptation strategies that will manage the water demand. Several adaptive responses are considered, including water-loss reductions, wastewater collection and reuse, and rainwater collection cisterns, which together have potential to reduce future water demand by 23.0%. This study demonstrates the vulnerabilities of the infrastructure system during socio-hydrological transition in response to hydroclimatic and demand variabilities in the CRB and also indicates the differential spatial impacts and vulnerability of multiple uses of water to changes over time. The simulations showed that the measures proposed and the water from interbasin transfer project of the São Francisco River had a positive impact over the water supply in the basin, mainly for human use. Industry and irrigation will suffer impact unless other measures are implemented for demand control.