Adapting to Water Stress in the Comahue Region of Argentina
Climate change is expected to lead to decreases in annual precipitation for the Comahue region in central-west Argentina. Combined with a projected increase in water demand and use, this will likely result in more frequent and severe water shortages over the coming decades. Water access and distribution in the region is particularly contentious as multiple stakeholders depend on this resource. Hydroelectric projects, oil and mining companies, a booming horticulture industry, farmers, and indigenous groups all compete for water. This research will assess water availability and demand to support the development of strategies to help the region's diverse water users adapt to expected future water scarcity. It will aim to develop new knowledge and strengthen local capacity to design public policies that enhance sustainable management of scarce water resources. Specifically, the project will: -document the factors that influence water availability, quality, and distribution -generate local and regional climate and hydrological models and scenarios for mid- and long-term water availability -assess current water availability, use, and distribution in sub-regions of the Comahue and provide projections for the next five decades -identify water stress critical vulnerability hotspots where adaptation efforts could be focused -help local communities and authorities develop adaptation plans to cope with reduced water availability and implement recommended adaptation strategies -support authorities and institutions in developing public policies that enhance sustainable water resource management. The Fundación Bariloche, an Argentinian research institute, will lead the project. Researchers will use downscaled climate models, hydrological and energy models, detailed land cover maps, and agricultural and census data to understand current and predicted water availability in the Comahue region. They will work closely with key actors including municipal governments, agricultural producer associations, oil companies, hydroelectricity providers, and community organizations. The project will generate maps to identify vulnerability hotspots that should receive priority support for adaptation. The research will inform policy recommendations for municipal and provincial institutions involved in water management in the Comahue. It will also contribute to related policies at the national level. The project will help design and validate local adaptation plans in two selected hotspot case study sites. Researchers will implement adaptation actions proposed by the communities and assessed through detailed cost-benefit analysis.